For the secular world, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving (the day after Halloween seems to be the start for some!). For Christians, Christmas starts on Christmas day, and lasts for twelve days (as in the fun Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”), ending on Epiphany, or King’s Day .
So, while many people take down their already drooping tree on Christmas day, some of us continue to celebrate Christmas into the first week of January!
Today, in my quiet time, I sat and meditated on Matthew 1:23:
Listen! A virgin will be pregnant, she will give birth to a Son, and he will be known as “Emmanuel,” which means in Hebrew, “God became one of us.” (The Passion translation)
In the NIV translation it reads, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him “Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”
To center myself, I listened to John Michael Talbot’s moving song “Immanuel.”
I love entering into the New Year with this astounding truth. God is with us. God became one of us. In the Message we read, “God moved into the neighborhood.”
What does this mean to me as the mom of Joel, an adult son with autism?
God is with my family in the hard times. Anyone who has walked with autism knows there are plenty of hard times scattered among the joyous times.
God loves Joel unconditionally, and walks with Joel wherever he goes. I clung to this truth like a liferaft when Joel moved from our home into his own home eight years ago. It was so hard to let him go, even though we knew it was the right move for him. How could he survive without us? But in my heart I knew God went with him. He wasn’t alone. That got me through some really tough days (and nights!).
God, who created the universe, created my son perfectly and wonderfully, just as God created giraffes and hippopotami, rainbows, and shooting stars. I don’t believe God causes disability. I believe disability is part of the fallen world in which we live. But I DO believe that Joel is perfect in God’s sight. That belief has been mind-blowing for the way I view disability!
God, who walks with us, has a plan for every person created in His image (and this would be every person on earth!). God has a plan not only for Joel, but for me as Joel’s mom (even on those days when I feel utterly useless and worthless as a mom. And I must admit there have been more than a few of those days).
As John Michael Talbot sings, “If God is with us, who can stand against us?” (If you’ve never heard his song, “Immanuel,” click on the link above. It’s awesome!)
Indeed! Who can stand against us? Not autism. Not sickness. Not hopelessness. Not frustration. Not fatigue. Not self-doubt. Not confusion. Not depression. Not anxiety.
God is with us. God became one of us. God moved into the neighborhood.
I don’t know about you, but I want to get to know this God—who took on the disability of human form—better.
I want to ask God to pull up a chair at my table. To sit down next to me during my morning quiet time. To walk into Joel’s bedroom with me as I tuck him into bed on the Saturday nights that I’m sleeping at his house. To take a drive with us when we take Joel to Brookville Lake, searching for sandhill cranes.
To walk with Him. To talk with Him. To ask Him questions and listen to His answers. To give all three of my sons, and my grandson, to Him for safe-keeping. To put my marriage into His hands and ask for Him to bless it. To ask Him to help peel away the layers in which I’ve dressed myself as protection from a broken world, and to help me find my true self buried beneath—the self that God created with a purpose and a plan.
Listen! A virgin will be pregnant, she will give birth to a Son, and he will be known as “Emmanuel,” which means in Hebrew, “God became one of us.” (Matthew 1:23 The Passion)
God moved into the neighborhood! He’s here with us now!
Happy New Year!
The mother of a grown son with autism, Kathleen Bolduc is the author of The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities and Autism & Alleluias. She and her husband own and run a contemplative retreat center, Cloudland, outside of Oxford, Ohio. Kathy is also a Spiritual Director. You can reach her through her website: Patches of Godlight