Even as I write this email, 400+ middle school students, high school leaders, and adult volunteers are on their way to Fallout, our annual Grace Student Ministries winter retreat. And if you’ve ever gone on a church retreat, you know there is one question that can make or break the experience: Who else is going to be in my cabin for the weekend?

Our student team (and especially our Middle School Admin Robin Phillips!) works very hard to craft great cabin chemistry, but because Fallout includes students from across the Grace Family, there’s no guarantee that everybody will know everyone else in their cabin.

Matthew 1:23 tells us that when Jesus is born, he shall be called Immanuel, which means God with us. And as I’ve both meditated on that name and prayed for Fallout this week, I keep thinking about that make or break question: Who else is going to be in my cabin for the weekend? Or, to ask it another way, Do I know who’s with us?

Now, I know that the leap from cabin assignments to cosmic knowledge is large, but when we sing or say the name Immanuel, it makes me ask another make or break question: Do we know this God who is with us? And what new things might the simple yet staggering story of Jesus’ birth teach us about the Almighty?


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Jon Stallsmith

Jon Stallsmith

Jon Stallsmith

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