"Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).
Christmas remains the great season of hope, peace, love and gift-giving. The festive spirit of the season befits the celebration of the birth of the Prince of peace. We celebrate our Lord's birth this year in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and amid much division and uncertainty in our own country and the world. Yet through it all we are reminded especially at Christmas time of God's great love for the world in giving his Son Jesus Christ. In the mystery of this birth that joins the divine spirit to our human nature, God's word and ancient promise are realized and fulfilled: "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." We call this the Incarnation, the living sign of his presence.

In our walk-in faith we come to experience that no matter our situation in life, God remains steadfast, faithful and sure. This is borne out in his power and grace that enable us to cope in difficult and trying times and to continue. Jesus' life in the world revealed an openness to the will of the Father and trust in his abiding and saving presence. It was a dynamic relationship of love. It is this love of God in Jesus that binds us to the divine and to each other.

The spirit of Christmas is characterized by love, generosity and joy. It brings us together and in our togetherness, we find strength and are united by deep affection. I cherish the tradition in The Bahamas when neighbours, relatives, and friends call upon and visit each other "going from house to house." It is wonderful and serves to overcome the distance and the barriers that often separate us. May this practice and sense of togetherness last for a long time.

The fulfilment of God's word and promise at Christmas involved the obedience and willingness of persons. There was John The Baptist, the messenger, sent to prepare the way of the Lord. He embraced his vocation and was faithful to the truth even though it cost him his life. The young Mary submitted to God's will even though she risked shame and more. Joseph was obedient and steadfast despite the doubts that coursed through his mind. The shepherds were obedient in going to seek for the child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. In their wonderment, they returned glorifying and praising God for all that they had seen and heard.

So the human element and co-operation are important in the story of our salvation. Just as many of our forebears in faith complied with God's word even though, at the time, they may not have fully comprehended the implications and demands made upon them, so we too, are called by God to believe, to walk with him and to keep faithful.

The gift of Christ the Son of Righteousness reveals God's love and purposes for us; they are for good and not evil. Jesus Christ is our peace. In him we are incorporated into the life of God, recreated and empowered for life within the kingdom. This is not by our own doing but by the design of the One who holds us in his mighty hand.

We are united to Him, to our loved ones and to all people of good will by the presence of Immanuel - God with us. Let us be thankful and welcome him into our hearts now and always.

My wife, Astrid, our family and myself wish you and your loved ones a blessed, peaceful and joyful Christmas.

Dean Patrick Adderley