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Lu Daoming welcomes you on a journey of friendship and hope. Together, let's learn new ideas: how to live with real meaning and joy.

圣诞快乐!”Immanu-el: 神 is with us!”

We live in such an interesting time! People are asking questions about life, about 神, about how we’re supposed to make sense of things and live without emptiness – and I’m really glad we get to talk about these things and learn together.

This is the the index page for our new lecture series for the Christmas 圣诞快乐 holiday season – this series is called “Immanu-el, God is with us!”

Now on the front page of our blog you’ll see a longer article all about where Christmas came from, what it really means. On this page, we’ll say a little about it to introduce each of the 4 lectures.

November 23: “The Heart of the Story: 神 wants to be with us!” There are two problems that everyone has with Christmas, with the story of the birth of Jesus: first, not many people know the original story very well! second, even when we know the details of the story, we don’t understand what it means! So in this series we’re going to explore both! Something truly terrible has happened to the world, and to humans – but 神 is working to help us overcome that terrible event, and to find Him again! If you really want to understand Christmas, start here!

November 30: “The First Immanu-el: the story behind the name!” One of the many differences between Chinese people and Western people: how we understand our personal names. To Western people, personal names are just what sounds nice, or what someone else in the family is named. To Chinese people, people’s names are important, names mean something – names tell you something about the person. My name 陆道明 was given to me by my 中国人 friends, and they believe it says something important about me – something that Chinese people will understand. Well … “Immanu-el” was the ancient Hebrew expression that means “神 is with us” – you see it during the Christmas time, you hear it in the Christmas songs – you even see it in some churches in China on the front wall! It’s supposed to be one of things that the ancient people used to say about Jesus. What were they saying about Him when they used this name?

Today’s lecture will answer two questions: first, “What did this name mean to the ancient people, when they first heard it?” There’s a story in the Old Books of the Library that tells the first time this name was ever given – and most people don’t know anything about it! The writers who tell us about Jesus refer to this ancient story, expecting us to know it. The ancient story of that name means a lot for the people who hear about it now!

The second question this lecture speaks to: “What does “Immanu-el” mean for us, in our time?!” When we see the ancient story, we’ll understand better. I think you’ll like it!

December 14: “Immanu-el: He was one of us!” Another of the many differences between Chinese people and Western people: how we understand our social connections. Most Western people are raised to think very “individualistically” – life is all about “me, the choices I make, no matter what anyone else says or does. My family’s choices don’t matter. My country’s choices don’t matter: what matters is me as an individual.” As you know, for Eastern people, “family” is extremely important – peers are very important – Eastern people are identified by the people around us, not by ourselves.

When you read in The Library, it’s important to remember that it’s not a Western book: the stories are about people from Eastern cultures! You will understand some things in it more quickly than Western people will, because your culture is more like the culture of the people in the ancient times.

“So what does this have to do with Immanu-el? What does this have to do with 圣诞快乐?” A lot. In this lecture we listen to the story of the birth of Jesus from more of an Eastern person’s view – and there is the most wonderful, unexpected good news in it for us.

December 28: “Immanu-el: the Story that stays!” It’s during this time of year that we can see a little more clearly what 神’s vision for the world is really like – especially through the genealogies of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew and Luke. 神 uses the genealogies to remind us of how big the story really is: way more than a baby in a barn, with decorations to be put away in a few days from now. This is 神’s work from the earliest days, and it moves on through history through the lives of ordinary people like us. This is what sets us free! Our society tries to control us by making us see only “now, what we need now.” But 神’s big picture shows us something that’s so much bigger, a reason to live, a reason to change, a reason to trust in Him. You’ll like this!

January 5, 2015: “Immanu-el: the Intervening Word!” This time we’re noticing a simple fact: 神 intervened and did something to change things! He communicated it to people, too – and these are stories of how people recognized His word to them and did what He told them to do. It’s all about how He brings the eternal truths of the Word into our lives, here and now – and what to do when He does it. Happy New Year, everyone. May this year be “the year of 神’s favour” – to you.

January 11, 2015: “Immanu-el: the King in a Manger?!” In this last lecture in the Christmas series, we take a closer look at one of the stranger features of the story: the shepherds, watching the sheep, seeing and hearing the angels, told to look for the newborn King – and the “sign” of the baby in a manger – “OK, what is a “manger”?” It’s a trough where food is put for animals. The first bed that this baby ever had was a place where animals ate their food. You know, for some people in the story, the “sign” was a new star in the sky – for others, angels speaking to them in dreams. Why is the “sign” of the newborn Messiah King a baby in a manger? What would that mean to shepherds in their fields? 神 understands us so well – He has a beautiful way of communicating with us, a way of showing His heart – and a way of helping our hearts change to become more like His!

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