At the end of each month this year, I am writing a ‘thought for the month’, and you will find them here. This one is December’s, and it’s coming out a little bit before the end of the month, because it has a Christmas theme.


We are living in uncertain times. 

Uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is putting economies and public health systems under strain. Uncertainty is leading to political instability, as governments allow corruption to run wild. Uncertainty is permeating the media (and social media) as we wonder whether what we’re being told is true, false, or somewhere in between. Uncertainty is infiltrating many institutions as we see them being shaken. And uncertainty is personal for some of us, in terms of our health, our families and our futures.

Who or what do we look to, in the midst of so much uncertainty? 

The message of Christmas is that, in the birth of a baby, God steps into history by coming in the person of Jesus Christ as Immanuel: God with us. In the words of Isaiah 7:14“The Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” 

It means that, in the midst of all the uncertainties surrounding us, we can have Immanuel: God with us

But is this our reality


In Luke 2:21-40, we read a wonderful part of the Christmas story. It describes the day when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple, as a new born baby, to be presented to God. There would have been nothing unusual about this, nothing ceremonious to mark the occasion, nothing to suggest that this was Immanuel: God with us. The temple would have been carrying on its ordinary everyday activities. Almost everyone would have been oblivious. 

But there were two people in the temple that day, who were watching and waiting for Immanuel: God with us. And because they were watching and waiting, they immediately recognised his presence with them. 

One of them was Simeon, who had been promised that, before he died, he would see the long-awaited Messiah. He instantly recognised Jesus as Immanuel: God with us, took the baby in his arms, and burst into praise. 

The other was Anna, who spent every day at the temple, worshipping the Lord. She came up to Mary, Joseph and Jesus, thanked God for the baby in their arms, and went on to tell many people about him. 

Simeon and Anna knew, with absolute certainty, that Jesus was Immanuel: God with us. They knew, because they were watching and waiting. They had eyes to see, and minds to discern, what everyone around them failed to notice and understand. 


But what about us? 

Are we watching and waiting for the World Health Organisation to declare an end to the Covid-19 pandemic? Are we watching and waiting for our governments to eradicate corruption, and give us political and economic certainty? Are we watching and waiting for our public health systems to cure our sicknesses? Are we watching and waiting for the media (and social media) to bring us good news? Are we watching and waiting for our families, or our futures, or both, to suddenly shift in a more favourable direction? 

Or are we watching and waiting for Jesus to come and dwell in our uncertain situations, making his presence felt, as Immanuel: God with us? And are we watching and waiting with eyes that see him, and minds that discern his presence, even when those around us are unable to notice or understand?


What situations of uncertainty are you facing at the moment? What are your thoughts and feelings about them?

How often do you watch and wait for Jesus to come and dwell in your uncertainty? Do you have eyes to see and minds to discern his presence? What difference does he make?

May this Christmas and New Year be one in which you experience Immanuel: God with us.

Photo by Debby Hudson via Unsplash.


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