I wrote this post a few years ago for Sheloves Magazine and thought I’d repost it today, this Christmas Eve, 2016. I am so grateful God is here, in the thick of our messy, beautiful lives and the world’s beautiful mess.
Years ago I first came into contact with three prepositions that could change the way we viewed living out our faith–to, for, or with. When it comes to kingdom living, prepositions do matter. Doing things “to” people or “for” people are two of the most familiar ways we intersect with others because they are the safest. We give to others, but never receive. We serve “those people.”
Living out “to” or “for” others keep us more comfortable, protected, with our power and vulnerability protected; they are very paternal or maternal and create oppression and codependence.
With is a completely different way of living where power is diffused and we see others as equals, as friends.
We receive as much or more than we give.
We are vulnerable.
We are human.
With relationships are incarnational and transformational, Jesus-in-the-flesh.
With relationships heal and restore dignity.
As we celebrate the eve of Jesus birth, God-in-the-flesh is on my mind. I love the wild way that God chose to enter the world–a human baby born to unlikely parents, in a dirty stall, in the midst of chaos and simplicity. God, born in a smelly stable to an unwed mother and her faithful fiance. Pagans strangly drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Shepherds, the lowest of the low, getting the news first. God, in the flesh. Showing us the ways of love and how utterly contrary they are to the ways of the world, to the ways of “religion.”
One of my favorite old school cheesy-but-beautiful worship songs is: Jesus, Name above all Names. Beautiful Savior, Glorious Lord. Emmanuel, God is with us. Blessed Redeemer, Living Word.
Even though it’s not a Christmas carol, every Christmas I start humming it because of my favorite line in the whole song–Emmanuel, God is with us.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
God is with us.
God, with us.
Here are some different words for “with”: accompanying, alongside, amidst, among, beside, by, for, including, near, plus, upon, as companion, side by side, in the thick of.
I love this imagery:
God accompanying us.
God alongside us.
God amidst us.
God among us.
God beside us.
God by us.
God for us.
God including us.
God near us.
God plus us.
God upon us.
God as companion to us.
God side by side us.
God in the thick of us (my personal favorite)
God is always with us.
As God is with us in spirit, we are called to be in-the-flesh with others.
A companion to others.
Side by side others.
In the thick of others.
God, with us. In the thick of of our messy, beautiful lives.
Us, with others. In the thick of their messy, beautiful lives.
Yes, “With” is one of my favorite words.
I think it might be another word for Christmas.