My beloved sisters and brothers,
A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called “Immanuel” which means, “God is with us”. (Matthew 1:23)
Christmas is here again – the season we all love, with all the beautiful decorations and symbols. Yet, that is not the reason for the season. Jesus is the reason for the season!
Luke tells us “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a saviour, who is Christ the Lord”. (Luke 2:11) He laid aside His glory and took on our human nature, born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the wonder, the joy, the gift of Christmas. He is Immanuel, God-with-us.
This Immanuel is always with us – at home, at work, in schools, in the fields….
When fear threatens to overwhelm us, God-with-us lives.
When doubts diminish our hope, God-with-us lives.
When confusion clouds our vision, God-with-us lives.
When friends are few and adversaries abound, God-with-us lives.
When sickness comes, God-with-us lives.
When the body weakens, God-with-us lives.
Throughout our lives, in good times and in bad, God-with-us is the oracle of salvation that lifts our minds and spirits; it is the word that creates us, forgives us, saves us, heals us, frees us and keeps us whole and holy until we behold Him face to face.
We are in the midst of marking the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the first missionaries to our land, led by Francis McDougall. They landed on our shore on 29th June 1848. They came because they wanted to share the good news of God’s love with us. As so, as we celebrate this joy-filled season and rejoice in the gift of Christ’s birth, we too must grow in the desire to share the love and hope of Jesus, Immanuel, with the community around us and beyond. We need to explore new and life-giving ways to share the gift Jesus with others. Hence, our Mission Forum, beginning with the Lower South and Upper South Archdeaconries on 23-24 November 2018 and the Children’s Ministry Conference on 25-26 August 2018. We have now formed our Diocesan Children’s Ministry Board, and appointed Ruth Mason as Diocesan Missioner to coordinate our Children’s Ministry. To encourage our prayer life, we have now established the Anglican Prayer Movement and Mobilisation (APMM) led by the Rev. Ivor Lim. We need to be strategic as we press forward. In January 2019, we will be sending five new seminarians for training in addition to our six continuing students. More Clergy Schools and Conferences are planned to further equip our Clergy. The House of the Epiphany, Kuching will be rebuilt as a four storey complex. The just completed Kidurong Anglican Center, Bintulu will be furnished as our Training Centre for the Northern region. As you would appreciate, all these mean we need more funding. We appeal to you for your kind generosity and support. We need to prepare, equip and train more leaders – lay and ordained.
2019 will also see the formation of several new Mission Districts and Parishes. And we look forward to our next Anglican Gathering/Gempuru Anglika in early July 2019, to be hosted by St. Basil’s Batu Kawa. Filled with God’s love, and the grace of Immanuel, God-with-us and empowered by the Holy Spirit, may we continue to grow together and REACH FORWARD in becoming a Healthy Church.
This Christmas and at all times, God has a gift for each one of us – wrapped not in bright paper with fancy ribbon – but in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger (Luke2:7). It is the gift of his Son, Jesus. This gift is for you. This gift must be personally received. Will you receive this gift, that your Christmas may be truly joyful?
Julita joins me in extending to you and your family our prayerful greetings for a holy and blessed Christmas. May our Lord Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, bless each one of you and all your loved ones with hope, love, joy, peace and grace this Christmas season and throughout the new year 2019!
Yours in Christ’s Service,