Tickell Expressions

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Immanuel - God is with Us

Back in October I was offered the great privilege of creating an advent art devotional for the community at His Kingdom Come. Music videos were given as inspiration for each advent post and I chose Michael Card's "Immanuel".

"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us." (Matthew 1:23 NLT)

(For my art journal page I transferred, with clear contact paper, a copy of an earlier painting to my (acrylic) painted background. The word Immanuel was done with stickers. I added highlights with white acrylic paint and the verse with a white gel pen. The bottom layer of my background bled through, creating a pinkish hue to the verse and highlights. I rather like it.)

Christmas time can accentuate grief because the expectation is that we should be happy and jolly. Ho ho hold it.

The truth is the first Christmas was a terribly frightening, stressful time for Mary and Joseph. Can you imagine being a very young woman (probably a teenager), never having been with a man and now you are about to give birth with only a man to attend you and not even a private room and a bed available? You are far from home at a time when you desperately want your mother. You are wracked with pain you have never imagined and being bounced around on the back of a donkey.

Mary was NOT feeling all happy jolly and Joseph must have felt desperately helpless. He probably felt like a complete failure, not only to his wife, but now he was letting down God's Son!


Mary's cries pierced the night, too far gone to care about the embarrassment of drawing strangers' stares her way. A little girl scurried over on tiptoe, holding a lantern up so Joseph could see her face. She cast a worried glance at the groaning woman on the donkey and blinked up at him.

"Come with me," she said, gesturing with her small hand. Her tough little feet scampered over the craggy hill as the lantern light bounced along with her.

Joseph wondered if he should follow. It could be a trap to get them away from the crowds to where thieves could easily pounce on them. Just then Mary screamed, a deep grunting sound. Joseph turned just in time to catch her in his arms as she slid off the animal, clutching her belly and groaning loudly.

With one hand gripping the donkey's rope, and both arms encircling Mary, he ran up the hill. His toes dashed against stones often, with only the distant lantern light to guide him, but he kept himself from stumbling, lest he drop his precious burden. Finally he was at the mouth of a little cave where a cow rested on a bed of straw, chewing as she looked up at him with limpid brown eyes.

A stable? Would the Son of God be born in a stable? He was about to tell the little girl that this was unacceptable, but she was nowhere in sight. Where had she gone, and so fast? He wanted to find her, but Mary's fists were beating at his chest.

"Joseph!" she screamed. He laid her on the straw as she gave one final scream and then went limp. The night was still. Was Mary dead? Just then a muffled cry came from beneath her dampened skirt. Joseph reached under and a jolt of power shot through his body as his fingers contacted the warm, vibrant flesh of Mary's son. Awestruck, he pulled the infant to his chest, sobbing and shaking with joy unspeakable. At that same moment a glorious brilliance flooded the area, piercing every crack in the walls and ceiling of the cave. Mary sat up, coming directly under one of the shafts of pure light.

"My soul doth magnify the Lord!" she gasped and then threw her head back and laughed, tears streaming down her cheeks. Joseph, trembling with joyous wonder, placed the infant in her arms and the glorious light washed over the little family.

Suddenly heavenly music streamed from the sky, as if each note trilled up and down those pure shafts of light. Notes that no human ear had ever heard gushed over them and the baby smiled.


Michael Card, in his song, quotes Isaiah 9:2. Here are verses 1-2 in the New Living Translation:

"Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine."
Christmas is a time for joy, but it is also a time for sorrow. If you are in a time of rejoicing, the message of Christmas is for you. If you are in a time of sorrow, the message of Christmas is most especially for you. This time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. Look for His Light and let it flood over you. Even in the midst of sorrow you can be filled with the wonder of His Glorious Joy.

"I have told you this (Jesus said) so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:11 NIV)

May you experience the deep peace and joy that came into the Earth at the first Christmas. He lives today and His name is Immanuel.

Christmas blessings,
 Since I didn't have my Advent journal ready when I prepared this post, I added a little art to it for Day 18 of Advent.
My art is on the left
Word Art Wednesday - ATG (anything goes) 

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