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The Herald December 2020

“God Is With Us!”
 … “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 1:20b-23
            
Well, the time is quickly approaching when we will gather in worship to celebrate the birth of our Lord. Christmas is coming and there’s nothing we can do to speed it up or slow it down. Will we be ready? Will we be prepared? Will we know what we are celebrating?

The verses above, from Matthew’s gospel, are full of statements and promises that are hard for us to fully comprehend. A child conceived from the Holy Spirit. Save his people from their sins. Fulfill what has been spoken by the Lord through the prophet. God is with us. Over the years, it has been said that in order to understand, a person must have faith. One must have the ability to believe and accept the truth that God’s actions are often beyond our ability to grasp them or compartmentalize them. ‘To believe’ is to accept that something is ‘real’ even though at the moment one does not have the scientific proof so often desired  Christians are often called to have faith in the promises of God, even at times when the proof desired is scarce.

This month as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I encourage you to cling to and have faith in the promise and truth that “God is with us.” With everything we have experienced over the last 10 months, that truth is one we need to hear and believe. We need to have faith that God is with us, both when we can see His presence and especially when we feel as if we can’t.

The United States is a nation that has been blessed since its founding. Americans as a people can easily say that of all the peoples in the world, we have been blessed with opportunities Yet, this year we have weathered a contentious political election to determine who will be our next president, and we have been facing a pandemic that has brought isolation to us individually, nationally, and globally. People are lonely. People are tired. People are fearful. Even with the news that a vaccine is just around the corner, the weight of our loneliness and its effects on us seem unbearable.

I suspect, in many ways, the world experienced these same emotions at the time the angel was speaking to Joseph, and God was acting to remind us of His love and presence. The Israelites were afraid for their lives as persecutions and conquests were constant. Soldiers were everywhere. The government was not helpful. Living conditions were stressful. It was into a lonely and fearful world that Christ was born with the promise of salvation. It was to a tired and weary people that the promise “God is with us” came with hope. A faithful people were told to believe!

So, as we look forward to celebrating Christmas, my prayer is that we will remember what Christmas means. Christmas is the reality of God’s promises to His people coming true. It is to know that into a dark world, God’s eternal light shines. It is to trust that even when we feel as if God might be absent, in truth, He is always present! It is ‘to believe’ in the midst of things we cannot see, nor prove, but trust to be true. “God is with us” always shines a bright light upon us, even in difficult times. This Christmas, let’s remember the promises of God that are so obvious in the manger – “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”  God keeps His promises!  “… and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
 
This Christmas, remember, God is with you!
 
Pastor Butler +