This post comes from Beth Ortstadt, who writes from Wichita, Kansas, where she will be spending a quiet Christmas with her family.
Have you had an opportunity to enjoy a display of artwork at a local elementary school? Did you notice the names? Times are changing! The year I was born, the top three names for baby girls were Lisa, Mary and Karen. Last year, the top three were Sophia, Emma, and Olivia. Lisa, Mary and Karen didn’t even make the top 100
A name is a powerful thing. In the Bible, names have great meaning. Abraham means “father of many.” Moses means “to save out of the water.” When God sent His Son to the earth, He called dibs on the naming rights. “You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
Jesus has hundreds of names and titles in the Bible. The Christmas story spotlights one in particular. It is the name foretold by the prophet Isaiah 700 years before His birth. We find it in the first chapter of Matthew, when the angel appeared to Joseph to tell him that Mary’s child was the Savior. Matthew writes: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:22-23)
This is how the story begins – Immanuel – God with us.
We continue on to the middle of Matthew. Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He tells them, “Where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
This is how the story continues – Immanuel – God with us.
We page forward to the last verse of Matthew, the last words of Jesus before He ascended into heaven: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)
This is how the story ends – Immanuel – God with us.
This is the gift of Christmas – Immanuel – God with us, in all our beginnings and middles and endings. God is with us at the beginning of our December onslaught, offering us His hope. He will be with us in the middle of the chaos, offering us His peace. He will be with us in the end, as the tree comes down and the needles are swept away, reminding us that His joy never ends.
Let His name settle into your soul. God is near us. God is around us. God is among us. God is within us. IMMANUEL – God is with us! God is near us…around us…among us…within us. IMMANUEL–God is with us!