Between Sundays for Week of December 19, 2022
Throughout our extended Advent, Pastor Amy reminds us that we have reflected on the various names for Messiah: King of nations, Key of David, Dayspring, Branch of Jesse, Wisdom, and today, Emanuel. (We had to skip Lord of might because we didn’t have enough weeks to fit them all in this year!) Each name rooted in the prophecies of Hebrew scripture. Each one a name or title used by our ancestors to describe some attribute of God’s longed for Messiah. Each name, revealing some facet of how God’s anointed one comes to the world and reminding us that the God for who whom we are still waiting came once as a child, but also comes in many and various ways.
Names matter, so we pay attention when Matthew tells us that when an angel visits Joseph, the angel gives Mary’s child the name that God intends for him. “You are to name him Jesus” which Matthew helpfully reminds us means – he will save his people from their sins. And then of all the names and titles for Messiah which our ancestors knew, the angel claims Emmanuel for the child – God is with us.
What is Messiah’s name? Jesus Emmanuel – which means the God who saves is with us.
We celebrate our Messiah born into this world on Christmas Eve. Share in worship at 5:30 or 7:30. Sing Silent Night and hear the story of Christ’s birth around the Christmas tree outdoors at 6:45. Invite your friends and neighbors! “Like” Bethlehem’s Facebook page and share our posts so that the whole world might hear the Good News that the God who saves is with us.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O people of God at Bethlehem.
Of all the names that could have been given to the Son of God, Matthew’s gospel tells us his name will be Jesus Emmanuel, which means the God who saves is with us. But it’s more than a name, it is also a promise that in whatever chaos we find ourselves inhabiting – like the chaos Joseph found himself a part of when Mary, his betrothed, was found to be with child — the birth of Jesus Emmanuel reminds us the God who saves is with us, too! In today’s message, Amy reminds us that this is the promise that allows us to take courage, step forward, and love!
The theologian Debie Thomas writes, “If we want to enter into God’s messy story, then perhaps” we also need to hear those words Joseph hears – do not be afraid. “Do not be afraid when God’s work in your life looks alarmingly different than you thought it would. Do not be afraid when God upends your cherished assumptions about righteousness. Do not be afraid when God asks you to stand alongside the scandalous, the defiled, the suspected, and the shamed. Do not be afraid when God asks you to love something or someone more than your own spotless reputation. Do not be afraid of the precarious, the fragile, the vulnerable, the impossible.
Do not be afraid of the mess. The mess is the place where God is born.” (Journey with Jesus, 2019)