December 25, 2016
Drummondtown Baptist Church
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ” —Matthew 1:23
The Death Star was planning to attack the Rebel pilots. Right before the attack on the Death Star battle station, Han Solo said to Luke, «May the Force be with you.»
American Film Institute’s100 Movie Quotes is a list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema. This quote is Number 8 on the list. (#1 is «Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.» Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind).
I would like to suggest that a far more powerful and life changing quote is the one in our text this morning: «. . . and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us.
From a devotional writer on the internet:
There are many who are in need of encouragement at this time of year. They don’t need a Christmas present; they need His Christmas presence. They need to be reminded of what this season is all about. It is not about things. It is not about presents. These things have their place, but we need to remember the essential message of Christmas, which is Immanuel—God is with us. And for the hurting person, the lonely person, the sorrowing person, this is the time of year to bring the gift of encouragement to them and say, ‘The message of Christmas is: God will be with you. God will help you. God will strengthen you’.
When is God with Us? He is here with us here as we sing hymn beside the Chritmas tree. But there are so many other times God is with us:
1. God is with us when trouble strikes.
I remember standing in the little prison at Philippi many years ago. It was there that Paul and Silas sat in the dark, their wounds bleeding from the whipping they had received. But Immanuel was there. God was with them. He was with them as they sang hymns of worship. He was with them when trouble struck. He will be with you when trouble strikes in your life. That is the true meaning of Immanuel.
2. God is with us in our despair.
Medical doctors remind us that Christmas time can be a time of despair for many people. Perhaps this is because the season itself is a busy one with high expectations for happiness. And in this rush to do so many heroic things, we begin to find the load upon us growing heavier and heavier. We are supposed to be happy like everyone us, but that doesn’t always happen. Despair sets in and then guilt etc.
*I am reminded of Charles Dickens. When he was 12, his father suffered several embarrassing financial setbacks and young Charles had to go to work in a shoe polish factory called the Blacking Warehouse. I have a picture of him slumped over a lonely desk, his face buried in his forearm, his hands black with polish, his heart filled with sorrow. He had been removed from school, from his happy life, and his country home. The family now lived in squalor and his father was hauled off to jail for failure to pay a $50 pound bill to a local baker. This experience haunted him for the rest of his life and led his writing the Christmas Carol, which in his day was read only second to the Bible itself.
*Even David had moments of despair and depression.
“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. Psalms 69: 1,2. (ESV)
But in the midst of all these dark clouds that often swirl about our lives even in the happy seasons, we can hear this one word whispering hope to us. Immanuel–Imannuel.
Can you all say it with me? IMMANUEL–God is with us. Just the sound of the words gives us hope.