"God Is With Us..."
Pastor's Christmas Message
Christmas is our celebration of the birth and revelation of Jesus Christ our Lord.
This evening, I will not get into when or what, exactly, we should be celebrate. Those are topics we can leave for another discussion.
For right now, I want to focus solely on the fact that we should be celebrating and why.
The year 2020 has been an extraordinary year to say the least. The difficulties of this year have been tough to grapple with:
A worldwide Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc.
Social and political unrest have taken hold here in the U.S. amid widespread allegations of fraud during the November election.
Meanwhile, a devastating war and crushing defeat in Artsakh has thrust both the tiny republic and our homeland of Armenia into turmoil and insecurity. The Armenian people are in turmoil and are struggling to come to terms with this great loss of our national pride and security.
In our culture, it has become popular to depict 2020 as a horrid year – despicable and unsalvageable as regards any promise or saving grace. Indeed, in a year that didn’t seem to give us much of a cause for celebration, it becomes all the more imperative that we make it a point to celebrate.
What is this, you say? How could we possibly have anything for which to be thankful or to celebrate this year? The answer is that as difficult a task as this sounds, it still must be done!
The birth of Jesus Christ and his revelation as God (Theophany) are meant to be for us the birth and rebirth of a new hope year after year. It is precisely when times are dangerous and uncertain that we must take pause, search deeper and truly comprehend what the prophetic meaning of “Emmanuel” is, or “God is with us.”
For those who are unfamiliar, this word “Emmanuel” was used in the Prophecy of Isaiah (Chapter 7) to describe the Lord’s promised Messiah. It was the same name used by the angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream, as recorded in the first chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel. The angel also adds that “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”
I can’t think of any more of a powerful and accurate description of the person of Jesus Christ. He is the very incarnation and embodiment of God’s Divine Nature. God becomes man and comes to live among us… this is the true story of Christmas.
“God is with us” applies precisely to today’s situation and this becomes all the clearer to those living in difficult times under difficult circumstances. On this Christmas, and at all times, We must never forget that God is always with us through his Son, especially in the most difficult times.
While the reality of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ every year (and I would argue every day!) should be an inspiration and in our lives, it becomes all the more powerful this year as we trek through all these challenges guided by his enduring love and faithfulness.
God our heavenly Father has promised to be with us; he sent his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ to be the physical and spiritual revelation of this truth. Now he gently reminds us not to despair and not to panic, as he did with the Apostle Peter on the waves of the sea (Matthew 14:27-30), saying, “I am here; do not be afraid!”
This Christmas, I wish you all a genuine celebration of joy and that you would be encouraged by knowing you are not alone. “Emmanuel,” God is with us.
Fr. Stephan Baljian, Pastor