The Story of Christmas According To E.T.

“I’ll be right here…”

Few scenes from any movie can evoke such deep emotion as Elliot’s farewell to E.T. in the movie E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. If you’re sketchy on the details, a lonely boy named Elliot befriends an alien whom he calls “E.T.” Despite sharing absolutely nothing in common, the two form a profound bond. Yet, E.T. desperately wants to return home—and while he waits, E.T. begins to slowly die. E.T. eventually (spoiler alert!) dies and comes back to life. Elliot then transports E.T. on his bike to a field in the woods where the cute little alien boards the spaceship that takes him home.

E.T. Was Echoing God’s Promise

So what does this have to do with Christmas?

A great deal.

In their final conversation, E.T. points to Elliot’s head and says “I’ll be right here.”

In what way would E.T. be “right here” for Elliot? A memory, for sure. But more than that, a piece of E.T. would remain with Elliot for the rest of his life.

Seven hundred years before Christ was born, God offered a similar promise:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14 NIV

If you were reading this prophecy in the original Hebrew, it would read: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him ‘God with us.’”

If you were reading this passage in the Klassen paraphrase, the last part of the passage would read: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him ‘I’ll be right here.’”

In the Hebrew understanding, our names describe our essence. It’s the core of who we really are. So the nature of the coming messiah is described as being “with us.”

When Jesus was born, Matthew 1:22–23 tells us, “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”).”

This God who lives in relationship—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—will come to earth to be with us. But in what sense is God with us?

  • God is among us. That means he’s present with us. Jesus came to earth in the form of a man and lived among us (see John 1:14). Most Christmas celebrations commemorate this fact. But that’s not the only way that God is with us…
  • God is in us. Through Jesus, God makes his home in us (see Colossians 1:27).
  • God is of us. By clothing himself in human flesh, Jesus has become one of us (see Philippians 2:7).
  • God is for us. Jesus’ birth is evidence that God is for us, not against us (see Romans 8:31).

Through Christ, God Engages Us

All of these truths are important and worthy of reflection and meditation. But this Christmas season, a different understanding of “God with us” has ruminated inside me.

God is engaged with us.

Are you with me?

Actually, that’s what I mean by “engaged.” You’re with me. In addition to being among us, in us, of us, and for us—God engages our hearts. He’s interested in who we are and how we are. He engages us in our sorrows, our grief, our sadness, our despair. And, he engages us in our laughter, our curiosity, even our boredom.

The nature of God, the character of God is to be with us. To engage us. To feel what we feel. To listen to us and hear us.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who wasn’t listening? They may be repeat what you said, but they aren’t engaged in what you said.

That’s not God. God is with us through Jesus. Through Jesus, God…engages…us.

Jesus–“God with us,” “I’ll be right here,”–is evidence that God really does love us, delights in us and rejoices over us with singing (see Zephaniah 3:17).

And through Jesus, God engages you, no matter how filthy your manger that symbolizes your life might be.

f you don’t have plans for celebrating the birth of Jesus during this Advent season and you live in the Denver, Colorado area, please join us at The Neighborhood Church as we explore The Gift Of Christmas Presence.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s still learning what it means to be engaged in his world. 

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One response to “The Story of Christmas According To E.T.

  1. Georgie-ann

    For some reason, this reminded me very vividly of a moment of “shock and awe”/(realization) that came to me during my special time of “spiritual searching” for God, and the “Deeper Truths” of God, — maybe even back at the time, (all of which is kind of blurry to me now!), of the E.T. movie & similar other ones that I might have taken my young children to see. I realize that this can sometimes bring us into “misleading” territory, but God will protect the sincere and innocent seeker if we listen very closely for His Wisdom and His Voice, and always remain humble and teachable, and respectful students of His Word.

    Anyway,…I was a fairly successful French student (and even college major) for an extended period of time in my life. It was the default language major of the day, (and not very easy or practical as I now see it!). Although “related” to other “romance languages,” French is quite unique* in many ways. (*I know — every language is of course unique!) The first things we usually learn in studying a language — (besides counting) — are the personal pronouns and appropriate verb forms to go with them: I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, you are, they are — the simplest of the simple, repeated over and over. In French: Je suis, tu es, il/elle est, nous sommes, vous etes, ils/elles sont. … (Do you see what I see?)

    The French “Je suis” is the equivalent of the English “I am.” None of the other words even remotely resemble “Je suis,” and “Je suis” very closely resembles the name of Jesus!

    When it suddenly “hit me” how close the name of “Jesus” is to “Je suis,” I experienced a moment of stunned-ness that simply took my breath away! I remember it to this day. In my Bible studies, we saw that God calls Himself “I AM”:

    Exodus 3:14,15
    14 “And God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM and WHAT I AM, and I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you! 15 God said also to Moses, This shall you say to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your fathers, of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has sent me to you! This is My name forever, and by this name I AM to be remembered to all generations.”

    Exodus 6:6,8 (excerpted)
    6 “Accordingly, say to the Israelites, I AM the Lord, and I will free you from … bondage, and I will rescue you with an outstretched arm [with special and vigorous action] and by mighty acts of judgment. … 8 … I AM the Lord [you have the pledge of My changeless omnipotence and faithfulness].”

    Not only did I experience a moment of the POWER of the name, but of the personal-ness of the name as well! Jesus = I AM — the identifying of the POWER of I AM (God) with the personal and “little old me” aspect of the humanness of the incarnation of Jesus, as “one of us with us” — and we were one, joined, united, loved, cosmically-connected, “right here” together! Well, it was a “mind-blowing” moment for me! … (and I was never a druggie!) (btw)

    Concerning “having my breath taken away” in awe, in the moment of realization of “oneness” with Almighty God and Our Saviour, I believe there is Biblical/spiritual significance there as well:

    Genesis 2:7 “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and BREATHED into his nostrils the BREATH or SPIRIT OF LIFE, and man became a living being.”

    Job 33:4 “[It is] the SPIRIT OF GOD that made me [which has stirred me up], and the BREATH of the Almighty that gives me LIFE [which inspires me].”

    Job 33:4 “The SPIRIT OF GOD has made me, And the BREATH of the Almighty gives me LIFE.”

    Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all their host by the BREATH of His mouth.”

    Job 32:8 “But there is [a vital force] a SPIRIT [of intelligence] in man, and the BREATH of the Almighty gives men understanding.”

    Jeremiah 51:17 “Every man has become stupid and brutelike, without knowledge [of God]; every goldsmith is put to shame by the images he has made; for his molten idols are a LIE, and there is no BREATH [of LIFE] in them.”

    Acts 17:25 “Neither is He served by human hands, as though He lacked anything, for it is HE, HIMSELF, WHO GIVES LIFE and BREATH and all things to all [people].”

    Ezekiel 37:5 “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause BREATH to enter into you, and you shall LIVE.”

    John 20:21-23
    21 “So Jesus said to them again, “PEACE to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He BREATHED on them, and said to them, “RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

    Psalm 150:6 “Let everything that has BREATH praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!”

    Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word that God speaks is ALIVE and full of POWER [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the BREATH OF LIFE (soul) and [the immortal] SPIRIT, and of joints and marrow [of the DEEPEST PARTS of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the HEART.”

    I’m thinking that, once again and as usual, our “medical and scientific” culture/community gets its focus “all wrong.” Claiming to be “for life and for healing,” it too often promotes death — the “cures” often being far worse than the problems!

    If we saw and experienced Life as “breath” — (and the created potentials for breathing, once emerged from womb or seed or chrysalis) — rather than simply gross physicality and bio-chemical interactions (as complex and fascinating as they all may be), and as “Gift” from a divine creative source Who loves us and is always “with us,” EVEN IN OUR OWN BREATHING, wouldn’t this somehow change our lives?

    But:

    John 1:10 “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.”

    And do we not still do this, each and every moment?

    We’re now programmed to think of “life” with physical heartbeats, nerve impulses, exercises, and lots of vitamins and medicines, — and something “we” have to keep pumping along. But God tells us it is His BREATH that gives us our Life — both natural and spiritual! If we return ourselves to the Source of Life (and spiritual and natural health), we just might find ourselves making better decisions, having better mental and emotional health as well, feeling our special beloved and inter-connected place “in the Universe,” with the Author and Finisher of our Faith, our Life, our Hope, our Peace — GOD, Jesus, I AM THAT I AM, Who has come to be “with us,” always “right here” and now, our Eternal “Emmanuel” — God’s Holy Christmas Gift that He Loves to keep on giving to us, even with each breath!

    1 John 3:1 “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”

    God’s Truth is so obvious, and yet “apparently so subtle and so easily missed” by the worldly-wise.

    I pray that stopping to “breathe in,” while giving consideration to God’s Gift of Peace and “Love right here with us” during this special Christmas season, will bring us blessing, wonder and a joyful sense of the simple and ever-present miracles of our life and breath each moment. Our God truly has “done it all!”

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