By Bill Webb
We stand at the threshhold of a brand new year. And no one knows what that will mean internationally, nationally, locally or personally. It is impossible to know what will transpire in 2005 on the political, economic or social fronts that will affect each of us and many others.
The only thing worth carrying into a new year is what we have just experienced at Christmas - Emmanuel, God with us.
For any one of us, a new year may hold unexpected blessings such as increased wealth, greater personal influence - you fill in the blank. But the year will hold grief, tragedy, sacrifice and loneliness for some of us. Some will face unbearable burdens. How can we handle the best life has to offer and the worst circumstances?
The answer is eternal - God is with us. His Spirit lives within us. He is our readily available resource.
Abraham left behind a life that had become very prosperous and secure to help birth a nation. When his faith was stretched, he still experienced "God with us." Poor Noah suffered such abuse when he set out to build the first cargo ship. When others threw taunts and humiliating barbs his way, Noah listened and kept on building because God was with him.
Elijah championed the cause of Yahweh God and defeated the so-called prophets of Baal. But his moment of victory evaporated into fear and he fled into hiding, completely alone with only a still, small voice that assured Him that God was with him.
Followers of Jesus huddled in grief and fear after His crucifixion but rebounded to turn the world upside down because of the assurance of "God with us."
An adulterous woman, abandoned by her partner in sin but facing potential death by stoning, discovered her life in the protective presence of "God with us" in the person of Jesus.
Emmanuel is a name we use for the Savior at Christmas but not so much at other times of the year. We sing Emmanuel at Christmastime but sometimes fail to carry the tune into the new year.
For those who recognize the truth of "God with us," what we have is all we need. We trust your new year will be full of the blessings of "God with us" in the form of a close walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The new Word&Way
The next issue of Word&Way, which should reach your home around Jan. 13, is the first of something new for us. It will be the first Word&Way under our biweekly publication schedule. That means that readers will receive a Word&Way every two weeks, instead of every week.
The new Word&Way will be beefed up. In fact, we plan to produce as many pages in 2005 as a biweekly as we did in 2004 with our modfied weekly. In time, we will make some appearance changes.
What we plan to be the biggest change revolves around innovative new content - regular features for teens and senior adults, regular Baptist history and heritage features, more stories from the field and more issue-oriented stories and columns. We will welcome your feedback and your suggestions. The new print Word&Way will complement our Web site - www.wordandway.org.