“…for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples…”
Christmas only means what it means because God took on flesh to mean it. Without this ontological aspect, Christmas can be reduced to little more than sentimental nostalgia in our American culture, schools, and (unfortunately) some churches.
But Jesus as an idea means little without Jesus as Immanuel (“God with us”). God has never been an “it’s the thought that counts” God; His present to us was and is His Presence, and because we are His people, so it should be in our circles as well.
We emphasize the ministry of presence a great deal at The Academy. Teachers are to be present with their students, just as we expect students to be present with their teachers. Those of us in administrative roles strive to be more than merely accessible to parents; we try to be intentional. None of us does this perfectly, but we don’t hide behind the idea that it’s the thought that counts, either. God’s example of sending His Son makes no room for that.
In the midst of a world suffering from continuous partial attention, presence is powerful when we choose to be somewhere and not somewhere else – physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. Jesus perfectly plays by these rules (and then some – deity has its advantages), but I saw mere humans make a present of their presence this week and it was inspiring.
In a time filled with festive celebrations and final examinations (perhaps an odd combination if you were to ask any of our Logic and Rhetoric students), I saw parents (and grandparents) exhibit Immanuel-like characteristics on behalf of our school. I saw moms and dads care enough to leave someplace else to be at one of ours – to pull off a majestic Christmas Feast, to sing carols and walk through the Christmas story, to gather with other parents and craft with their kids – in short, to make a present of their presence.
As we close down school and prepare to celebrate the incarnation of Christ, let us also prepare ourselves to make a present of our presence with our children, spouses, relatives, and communities. May the spirit of Immanuel be upon us, just as the Spirit of Immanuel is, indeed, with us.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and thanks for your presence at The Academy of Classical Christian Studies.