. . . an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." - Matthew 1:18-25
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who had trouble sleeping. Night after night, she'd wake her parents up and crawl in bed with them. They loved the feeling of their young daughter snuggled up with them, but nobody was getting a good night's sleep.
Finally, they put her to bed one evening with an admonishment to stay there for the whole night. She started to cry. Panicked, they said, "Sweetheart, you're never really alone! Don't you know that God is here with you, keeping you company?"
"Yes," she said through her sobs, "I know that God is here. But I just want someone with a little more skin on."
Christmas is almost here, and God-With-Us is almost born: God with skin on. That's who Jesus is: God in a shape we can understand, a person we can talk to, a shape we can cling to, when the night is long and our fears crowd in. Hold Him, and draw comfort from Him, and lay whatever you got on this God who understands and even shares the skin we're in.
Sweet Jesus, hold us tight, in the dark night of whatever we are going through, and give us patience and warmth to hold others who need a God with skin on. Amen.
Molly Baskette is senior minister of First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA, and the author of the book Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too.