Elaine's 2023 Christmas Message—
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
(Luke 2:19, NIV)
I want to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas and a New Year marked by the love, peace and hope that the Lord Jesus brings.
I also want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to those of you who have stood with us, used our resources, prayed for us and given generously to allow our work here in Scotland and around the world to continue and to grow.
We regularly thank God for you and for your partnership with us.
As we draw towards the end of this year we are also thanking God for his faithfulness in helping us through a year of change: we have a new visual identity, a new website, a new way of telling the story of the impact of the Bible on people’s lives around the world, all shaped around the clear call to ‘Share the Bible’.
Earlier this month we gathered as a team to reflect and share encouragements from the past year. There was joy in the room as we paused and considered the ways in which God has been at work.
In Luke’s account of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth it is obvious that a key eye-witness was Mary herself. The detailed insights into encounters with angels and shepherds, with Simeon and Anna in the temple, and then years later losing Jesus in the temple, all must have come from Mary’s recollection of the events. Twice in chapter two of his gospel, Luke tells us that ‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’.
By nature, I am not the most reflective person, and so I am challenged by Mary’s approach to life. She is a thinker and is obviously keen to work out what all of this means. Her thinking and reflecting is deeply rooted in her knowledge of God and of Scripture. In the midst of personal circumstances that must have been challenging and perplexing, she is able to trust God and ‘treasure’, store up, keep for future reference, all that is happening in her severely interrupted life!
This Christmas, with conflicts and challenges in so many countries around the world, alongside everything going on in our personal lives, we also need to ponder what God is doing. We need to hold on to his promises in his word. We also need to treasure and trust that Jesus continues to be Immanuel, God with us. We are not alone, nor are we abandoned to our own self-centred ways. Jesus is the Saviour we need and the world needs. This is why we share the Bible!
Our colleagues in Ukraine have just told us about a 57-year-old conscripted soldier they encountered. He told them; ‘I got to know God on the frontline, thanks to the Bible. God came here, to the swamp, to the horrors of war, to find me’.
God’s Word is a light to those facing the darkest of times and so we continue to also pray for those in Israel, Palestine, Sudan, Syria and the many other countries experiencing conflict.
We often ponder most when we are perplexed. The truths we celebrate at Christmas are able to reassure us that there is hope because of Jesus. May you know his love, joy and peace this Christmastime and throughout the New Year.