Prayers from the Island Emmanuel: God is With Us

Emmanuel: God is With Us

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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A warm spell has sparked the interest of biting flies on the beach. Landing on bare arms or legs, they give a nasty bite and fly off. My husband carries a fly swatter on his walk, carefully taking aim and quickly ending their food fest. Today more than five fell at his blows, and I suggested we ought mount their heads on a small post to carry as we walk, warning others of the consequences of attempting an attack. We laughed at the picture, but it made me think of the value of warnings. Sometimes, despite the warnings, I choose to do what I want, convinced that my way is better, confident that I’ll suffer no negative consequences. I have examples and warnings from both the Old and New Testaments, but I persist in making my own mistakes, suffering my own losses. I believe what the Bible tells me, and yet sometimes it seems to permeate so little into my conscience and actions. I need help, Lord, in hearing your word, in trusting its truth, in applying it to my behavior. Forgive me for failing to heed your warnings; please guide me into courses that are good for your service and for my eternal soul. Amen.

Sand on My ToesSand on My Toes

How wonderful the sand feels on my toes!  I can choose the texture—slippery, squeaky sand near the boardwalk, firm sand farther from the water’s edge, rippled and damp sand where pools have subsided, crunchy sand where shells lie just underfoot, and soft, sinking sand at the water’s edge.  My toes grip the grains and curl against their weight.  When I was a child, I ran barefoot all summer long, hating the feeling autumn brought when my feet had to fit once again into school shoes.  God’s world is an incredible gift—even the sand on the beach becomes part of my daily joy.  I thank you, Lord, for the sand of the seashore, for its variety and treasures, and for the gift of feeling that allows me to appreciate its sensation. Amen.

Sharp WordsSharp Words

 I’m limping a bit today with a sore foot.  Yesterday I stepped on a piece of broken glass, a bottle someone took to the beach and left.  In time the wave’s action would have dulled the gleaming shard into a matte piece of opaque glass, but it was new and fresh when my foot stepped on it, able to slice through bare skin.  I think of those sharp words I speak to others when I’m annoyed, impatient, or angry.  They too slice and hurt, cutting into someone’s sense of self-worth.  If I had held them back, I could have dulled their impact like the wave’s action on the glass.  Forgive me, Father, and help me seek forgiveness from those who have been wounded by my jagged, cutting words.  May I speak your truth in a way that heals rather than hurts. Amen.