God with Us

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
Matthew 1:23, NLT

Concerning news is bad at any time but for some reason feels worse this close to Christmas. In the last week we have heard that the conditions in Syria worsen because of the severely cold weather; fresh violence has erupted in South Sudan and the situation in the Central African Republic has deteriorated again. We have Bible Society colleagues caught up in each of these situations and we pray for their protection, along with great grace and courage.

I am regularly challenged and amazed at the level of trust and faith in God that many of my colleagues from other countries show. In the midst of the most demanding and frightening circumstances they lean hard on God. We had a glimpse of the vibrancy of Christian faith as we heard of the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. A number of news reports on the TV made reference to the hope being expressed by the people because they are people of faith.

The Bible Society in the Philippines has been working alongside practical relief agencies to bring people Bibles to replace the ones they had lost. I found myself wondering what priority a Bible would have if I had just lost everything?

Talking to people in some churches setting up food banks here in Scotland, I have found there is reluctance to the idea of putting a gospel as a gift along with the food. Elsewhere in the world, there seems to be a greater understanding that people are whole beings – body, mind and spirit – and thus, providing Scriptures with practical help is a normal practice.

Has the thinking of our increasingly secular society rubbed off on us within the church? Are we diminishing what it means to be human by not being more overt in giving spiritual help and support? God became one of us in the birth of Jesus Christ. In doing so he gave humanity value, worth and dignity beyond anything we could dream up for ourselves.

God is with us and he can be leaned on and trusted in all the circumstances in which we find ourselves, both now and throughout the New Year. Turning to the Bible regularly will help us keep this perspective.

Let us seek to appreciate the ‘God with us’ that Jesus makes possible in new and fresh ways this Christmas. And may we have the courage to speak up for the dignity of the whole person – their spirit included!

Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas and God’s rich blessings in 2014,
Elaine Duncan
Chief Executive