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A Christmas Message from Paul Gray

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel - which means, God with us" (Matthew 1:21-23).

As we approach the year end, another year of uncertainty and upheaval for many, and look to celebrate the birth of our Saviour may you be uplifted and encouraged. There is not a Christmas that goes by that the words of the prophet Isaiah (7:14) and Mathew (1:21-23) are not read. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” This is Immanuel! The meaning of Immanuel is given to us in the text (Matt. 1:23), "God with us." But have you stopped and considered that the name originated within the context of uncertainty, despair, loss, doubt, fear, and chaos? Immanuel came to a world in crisis. Immanuel is not merely a name to remember during Christmas as we sing carols. No, Immanuel is a name of comfort when times are at their worst.

When Isaiah wrote about Immanuel, God's people were being attacked by the enemy. They stared disaster in the face. The king could see no sure victory for himself or his nation. It was amid this fear, anxiety, and dread that God showed up and told King Ahaz that He would give him a sign of victory. No ordinary sign, a virgin would bear a son! (Isa. 7:1-14).

When Matthew introduced the name Immanuel by referring to Isaiah, he reminded his readers, who were suffering under Roman oppression, he assured them of the presence of God in a decaying and challenging season.

This is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus Christ is God with us, Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, the One who reveals to us the heart, mind and nature of God. It is through Jesus that we come to discover the depth of His power. It is through Jesus that we understand the fullness of His love. Without Jesus, we would never have gained entrance into the presence of God. This is Immanuel, our only hope in an uncertain, dark, and decaying world, God with us. What a great hope and an encouragement to know that “God is with us” as we move into 2023.

I want to take the opportunity to say thank you for your interest, prayer, and financial support throughout 2022. Your support as made a significant difference in the lives of many Jewish people, particularly in Ukraine and Poland.

It has been a challenging year for us all but we can attest to God’s presence and faithfulness as we walk with Him and serve Him. So, as we remember Immanuel this Christmas, we pray you have a blessed and safe season, looking to the coming of our Lord and Saviour.

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