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Love for the Lonely

I've always had a bit of a church crush on Liturgical churches. Whereas I love my non denominational upbringing and am SO grateful for the Truth I've been exposed to, I'm quick to admit, there is such richness in church tradition that I missed out on.


Liturgy prayers.

Sacred practices.

Holy days.

When approached with a pure full heart, these practices can be strong pillars in one's faith development.

I remember standing in Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford (picture above), singing hymns and thinking how GENERATIONS of believers, scholars, theologians, and pastors also stood in my same spot encountering the same presence of God. (I mean, John Wesley got ordained in that church!) I remember having such a holy awe come over me. What a GOOD God we serve; His presence is with Us. His nearness stretches through time and generations. In that moment, I imagined men and women in different timestamped clothes of decades, standing and worshiping just like me. They carried questions and trials, celebrations and excitement just like me. And even though the congregation in appearance may have looked different on that day than in past centuries... the same Gospel privileged was ust as alive. What a privileged to be a part of the Christian heritage. To continue the carrying of a torch from one generation to the next. The same "Yes" we've received and given bonds us together. When walking through a trial, there is something very reassuring in the reality that someone, somewhere has also walked through "this". That seems a little selfish to say, but knowing you aren't alone is sometimes the greatest gift. Someone else also has:

- Lost a parent

- Experienced divorce

- Encountered anxiety

- Stumbled through grief

- Buried a child

- Kissed their spouse goodbye for a deployment

- Rushed to the emergency room

- Had their girlfriend break their heart

- Argued with their husband

- Received the decline letter

- Cried through the night

Maybe it's the mercy bend in me, but Holidays always bring a sobering empathy to me. People walk through terribly hard things and it seems like the Holidays can heighten the pain. If you are one of those people, I'm pausing to hug you, and weep with you right now. I'm terribly sorry. But similar to the hope I found in singing hymns of old, I want to encourage you with hope of Immanuel this season. Immanuel means “God with us”. You are not alone. You see this is good news because other peoples moments can bring hope of healing, but Jesus' nearness can truly restore wholeness to your tattered heart. He can be there when no one else is. -In the shower when you start to sob

-In the grocery isle when grief memories take over

-In the car when your mind starts racing

-In the bed when you feel deeply lonely.

In those moments, you are not alone.

Immanuel. God with us.

The celebration of the season isn't about cookies and Christmas trees. It's that Jesus came to us.

Immanuel. God with us.

If you feel lost or lonley in life, this is the gift of all gifts.

Immanuel. God with us.

This is a promise we can sing and pray. In other religions we see the pressure of man coming to God.

Go to the mountain.

Go to the temple.

Go to the pilgrimage.

Go find God. But Jesus, in His Goodness, came to us.

Immanuel. God with us.

Jesus put on skin and left Heaven so that we don't have to be alone.

I pray you mediate on this all month. I pray you sing songs over your weary heart and remind yourself that you are not alone. The miracle of this season is that Jesus made a way so that you don't have to feel flooded with despair. Through friendship and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, you can experience Immanuel. As we gather this month, in our Church buildings and homes, please pause and remember Immanuel. He is not just with you, He is with US. There is a reason I felt connected to Christ in that old church singing those old hymns in Oxford. It's because when we gather, He's presence is with us.

Immanuel. God with US. Do you know of anyone hurting or healing? Are you that one? With all the courage you have within you, I encourage you to collect yourself and find a church family. I encourage you to invite someone to join you for a special service. Christmas is a WONDERFUL time to get reconnected or visit a church. It is much more than something to do on a Sunday, it is a place of strength. For centuries, Christians have overcome hardship through the hope and healing of Jesus found in a local Church. You'll hear hearts and stories retelling the Faithfulness of God, and be surrounded by a faith family. Psalm 68:6, "God places the lonely in family...".

In that family, you'll find that just like others have hurt like you, others have also healed like you.

Someone else, because of Jesus, has:

- Found joy again after years of depression

- Claimed freedom from additive patterns

- Restored a family bridge that was burned down

- Gained new *good* friends

- Met a Godly spouse

- Learned how to grieve in a healthy way

- Seen prayers answered

- Gotten pregnant miraculously

- Found new mercy in the morning

Immanuel. God with us.

Church. Family among us.

You are not alone this season. Your holiday season doesn't have to be full of dread. I want to pray for you right now. Faithful Father, Thank you for those who are reading this right now. You see them. You know them. You love them. I ask that your Goodness would be seen through your nearness. Just as your Word says, I ask that Holy Spirit would remind them of Truth throughout the days. For those who feel stressed, I speak peace in their hearts and home. For those who feel sad, I ask for your comfort to bring joy. And for those who feel left out, I ask for you to surround them with love like only You can. Thank you Jesus for choosing to come to be with Us. We celebrate You this season; Your obedience and Your nearness. May Immanuel be imprinted into every breath of our days. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

I love feeling His nearness through music. Here are two version of the classic Christmas Hymn "O Come O Come Emmanuel" for you to enjoy.

You are Loved and Not Alone, Abby PS Bible Fact - Immanuel and Emmanuel are the same thing. Immanuel comes from a Hebrew translation and Emmanuel from a Greek translation. So both are correct :)

PSS- Don't forget... The Cirkles are cheering you on!


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