Today’s writing is a real treat. My friend David Jones is a retired United Methodist pastor in the North Georgia conference, my home base. He is an excellent communicator of the Gospel, and I know you will love this story that I am sharing with his permission. Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!
“This is my favorite Christmas story. A true and personal story. Christmas Eve 10 years ago I was the pastor of Glenn Memorial UMC on the Emory University campus. Between our 2 services I walked over to Emory Hospital to visit Ted and Cindy Runyon, long-time members at Glenn.
The hospital was quiet, as I’ve always found hospitals to be on Christmas Eve. The only people in a hospital on Christmas Eve are the staff and the patients who absolutely have to be there. Ted had to be there. He’d had emergency open heart surgery the day before.
When Cindy and I walked into Ted’s room in the ICU a nurse was checking Ted’s vital signs. Then he walked across the room and started writing on Ted’s chart.
Cindy and I stood by Ted’s bed for a brief visit. While it’s always difficult to leave someone in the hospital overnight it’s especially hard when they’re in Intensive Care. All the more so on Christmas Eve.
When the nurse came back over to check Ted’s monitors I said, “I hope you’ll take good care of this man. He was my teacher when I was in seminary here at Emory. Now it’s my privilege be his pastor.”
The nurse smiled. I don’t remember what he said. I do remember he said it with a Jamaican accent. Then he went back across the room and started writing on Ted’s chart again.
Ted and Cindy and I talked for a few more minutes, then I said, “Before I go I’d like for us to have a Christmas Eve prayer together.” The 3 of us held hands. As we finished the prayer and said, “Amen,” we heard another “Amen” from across the room, spoken quietly in a Jamaican accent.
I looked across the room and said, “You’re a believer.” “Yes,” the nurse said, “I am a Christian.” I said, “My name is David. What’s yours?” He said, “My name is Emmanuel. I will be here with your friend all through the night.”
At that moment the Christmas story hit me as never before. The angel said, “You shall call him ‘Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God with us.’” Every day. Every night. Wherever we are. Whatever is happening to us. In our growing and our becoming. In our rejoicing and our weeping. In our struggling and our loving. In our living and our dying. God with us.”
Oh, the wonder of it all!”
Matthew 1 (Common English Bible)
23 Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel.
Indeed. Oh, the wonder of it all. I pray you find your own Emmanuel tonight.
God With Us by Michelle Robertson