At this time of the year, we cannot avoid being reminded of the elements of the “Nativity” which pertain to the naming of the Lord Jesus. “You are to name him Jesus.” “Jesus,” or “Yeshua,” as Joseph and Mary would have said it, means “The Lord is salvation.” Also significant, but perhaps not as often remembered, that the child is to be called “Emmanuel” — which means, as Matthew tells us, “God is with us.”
Among the many things that the nativity means, clearly one of the most important is the fact that it means we no longer need to rely on external commands, on our own perceptions, or on tradition, for direction and guidance — for God is with us – 24/7.
We live in a world that is careening wildly out of control. Our economy is crumbling. Our politics are corrupt. Our morality is in the gutter. Our spiritual state is one of declining insipidness. Our health is uncertain. Our future is largely unknown. Amidst the frequently dark and aimless streets of our earthly existence one may indeed find great rewards. But one is sure to find them filled with lurking dangers as well. There is no Life MapQuest, or Google Maps to guide us as we navigate those streets. However, we have something better … we have a Guide Who not only knows where we need to be going, but He also knows how to get us there. Praise God for this wonderful Gift!!
It would be difficult to enumerate all of the challenges and blessings which Linda and I have found in and along the side of the road this last year. Suffice to say that we are constrained to joyfully sing with the psalmist, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad!” From what we can already see on the horizon, the year ahead has challenges lining up to greet us as we step through its portal. We’re thankful for Emmanuel!
We also have some hints of what we may anticipate in the way of blessings! We are already enjoying just the prospect of those and look forward to their realization!
We do so deeply appreciate the love, prayers, encouragement and financial support of all of our friends and family. Without it, we would be greatly hindered in our ministry of church planting with Midwest Church Extension. We regard each of you as a gift in evidence of God’s loving provision for us. Take some time this Christmas to reflect upon similar such gifts in your own life and that of your family. See if you don’t agree that such gifts are far more precious and cherished than anything you might find under a fake tree bedecked with pre-installed lights and ornaments of silver and gold.
Even more, let’s take a lesson from the usually pensive and reverent looking figure in the nativity scene. Why is Joseph portrayed that way? Perhaps because his thoughts and imagination are captured by the greatest Christmas gift of all! He has, after all, heard the sound of God’s voice spoken directly into his ear, guiding him through what would have been a challenging and embarrassing life experience. He knows how it feels to realize fully that God is standing right next to him, and he’s determined to never again be so intently focused on working out his own path through life that he might miss that experience of God when it comes again.
We can all think of certain people, well known public figures as well as lesser known family and friends who, if they were to walk into the room, would demand our immediate and undivided attention. If they were to sit next to us we would wait in eager anticipation, ready to listen and to hear what they might have to say.
And yet — right now . . . God is with us . . . He’s with you as you read these words . . . He may be getting ready to speak . . . to deliver a message that startles you, comforts you, challenges you . . . Can you hear Emmanuel, God with us, this Christmas? Listen . . .
Linda and I wish for you, and yours, a blessed time of listening … and hearing this Christmas!
Standing at the Manger, but looking at the Cross,
Tim & Linda