Dear Heavenly Father—Christmas is a time to reminisce, to remember the past and celebrate early days. But Christmas is equally a time to look forward. The birth of Jesus itself was prophesied by sages centuries earlier, people who saw the promise Jesus would fulfill. The angels predicted Jesus’ purpose to Mary and Joseph, to the Shepherds, to the Wise Men. They looked ahead and reported what they saw in the future.

Jesus was not “Super Baby” who lifted strong men and performed crib-side miracles; he had a purpose assigned to him, and he continued to fulfill that purpose. It was to Jerusalem he was going, and all that happened there was part of his future. From the beginning he looked ahead, and lived his life with that future in mind.

As a church also we think of the future. What is our purpose on this island, in this county? What can we do to fulfill our purpose, to be true to the mission Christ has placed upon us? How do we grow? How do we minister? How do we best serve the world around us?

Finally, as individuals too we are called upon to consider our futures at this blessed time. Emmanuel means ‘God with us’—but what does God being with us mean? What does God’s immediate presence allow us to do? How can we make decisions that best define that God is with us?

On this Holy night, may each of us consider what Emanuel means and how it will affect our lives, change our lives. May we live each day demonstrating to all others that God is with us, and that our lives reveal His presence. May this Christmas become the Christmas that was different, one where we are different, and may God’s presence with us be clear to all who meet us. May we face the future with the sure knowledge—Emmanuel—God with us. Amen.

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