All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22-23
When Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas in 1942, he tapped into America’s dream for nostalgia in the early stages of a horrific world war. Bing Crosby’s sentimental rendition of that song is still the largest selling single record of all time.
Both major candidates in the recent presidential election portrayed a version of the American Dream. Dreams are not new territory for politicians. Herbert Hoover campaigned in 1928 for the dream of “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” Unfortunately, the Great Depression quickly derailed that dream when Hoover became president. As a lament in the Broadway musical Annie put it, “Not only don’t we have the chicken, we ain’t got the pot!”
Dreams often turn into nightmares. Two thousand years ago a man named Joseph dreamed of his future with a young woman named Mary. But his dream was derailed and became a nightmare. Mary had become pregnant. Joseph knew it wasn’t his child. Her account of how it had happened was beyond reason. She claimed she was pregnant through the Holy Spirit and was carrying the Son of God. That was too much. It was a nightmare. Joseph wanted to break off the engagement.
But God had a different plan for Joseph’s dream. And he revealed it to Joseph in a dream. (Go figure!) While Joseph was asleep, an angel came to him and confirmed Mary’s story. The baby’s name was to be Jesus and he would save his people from their sins. Even though it was only a dream, it was enough for Joseph. He went ahead and married his fiancee. That’s a pretty powerful dream! For Joseph it was a dream within a dream.
At Christmas children dream about toys. Adults dream about… whatever adults dream about. Probably bigger toys. But Christmas isn’t really about our dreams, even our best ones. Christmas isn’t even about Joseph’s dream, though his dream is part of the story.
In the end, Christmas is really about God’s dream. God has a dream? Yes, he does. The angel told Joseph that Mary’s baby Jesus would save his people from his sin. His title would be Immanuel (or Emmanuel), which means “God with us.” That’s a big dream! It’s been God’s dream since the beginning of human history and it will be his dream until the end of time.
God’s dream was to send Jesus to save his people from their sins so that he could be with us forever. God wants to be with you and me. Immanuel: God with us. That’s his dream. Is it your dream, too?
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)