West Franklin Family,

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently in John 17. The entire chapter is a prayer by Jesus. He prays for Himself (vs. 1-5). He prays for the 12 disciples (vs. 6-19). And, believe it or not, He prays for us (vs. 20-26). His prayer for us is what has me stopped in my Christmas boot tracks. Consider a few phrases:

  • “Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (v. 21)
  • “May they also be in us.” (v. 21)
  • “I in them and you in me.” (v. 23)
  • “you have loved them as you have loved me.” (v. 23)
  • “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory.” (v. 24)
  • “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and I myself may be in them.” (v. 26)

Every Christmas I reflect on the beautiful and incredible and remarkable and fascinating and life-changing reality that – in Jesus – God is with us. Immanuel, God with us. Oh my.

But can I be honest? I probably shouldn’t admit this because I am, after all, a preacher. I should know better. Here’s the truth, however. When I think “God with us.” I tend to think, “I am so glad He came to earth to know what it’s like to be human in our world.” That’s true, but it keeps Jesus out there. It keeps Him at arm’s length. This is a wonderful thought and a beautiful reality. But it is also remarkably shallow. It misses so much. It gets at only part of the miracle of Christmas. It only really hints at what He came to do.

Go back and read the phrases I bulleted above. “May they be in us;” “I in them and you in me;” “to be with me where I am;” “the love you have for me may be in them and I myself may be in them.” I mean, ARE. YOU. STINKIN. KIDDING. ME? Jesus came to be with us, yes. God is with us. But hang on to your ugly Christmas sweater. He came to be really with us. Like, in us with us. God didn’t send Jesus to be like the Uncle you try to avoid at the family Christmas dinner after the awkward side hug. He doesn’t just understand the world. He knows YOUR world. He knows YOU. He is in YOU. He came to be with YOU. In YOU. He isn’t at an arm’s length. Oh no. He’s at no length. He doesn’t just keep your heart beating at night. He knows what causes your heart to beat, or hurt, or grieve, or thrive. He didn’t come to get a text several times a day. He came to enjoy the richest of relationships with you, in you.

West Franklin Family, it’s been a year. As I’ve said several times in recent weeks, 2020 has prepared us for Advent like no other. One day we will be whole and complete and see Him face to face. Come, Lord Jesus! But we don’t have to wait to be with Him. We don’t have to wonder if He is with us. He is nearer to us than we could ever dare imagine. Don’t just know this reality. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Awaken to it. Celebrate it. Don’t waste it. He in us. Us in Him. A transfusion of the deity in us.

Immanuel. God with us. Like, really with us.

Now. Go and enjoy the presence of God. With you. In you. Even when you’re wearing that hideous sweater.

In Awe of this Good News,

Pastor Matt


  • Christmas Concerts – NEXT WEEKEND. Click here for information and get yo’self a ticket! (More details on the podcast here).
  • Christmas Eve Services – Noon. 2 PM. 4 PM. Click here to reserve a spot. Both venues WILL BE LIVE!