December 18, 2016 - Emmanuel

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
a young woman shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Isaiah 7:10-14

Behold! The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”

Matthew 1:18-24

I have come to the conclusion that the most important part of the nativity story is the name which, as far as we know, was never again applied to Jesus, but was associated with him at birth: Emmanuel.   That God is with us doesn’t mean God will intercede to keep us from harm.  We know that’s not true.  Nor does it mean that He’ll keep us from bad behavior.  We know that’s not true.  But there is something about the knowledge that God is with us – not just near us, or among us, but one of us – that has cosmic importance.   Exploring the nature of that relationship and the importance of that fact is what faith is all about.