The sermon will be a post on our Facebook page.
A Meaning-Making Name
Names are powerful makers of meaning both in the scriptures and in our lives. Consider how much we associate people with their names. A name is merely a word, a sound, yet it can completely represent a person. And our names can be powerful. Think about the resurrection account in John 20 when a distraught Mary Magdalene does not recognize Jesus in the garden. She does not recognize him until when? He speaks her name.
The texts for the fourth Sunday of Advent invite us to explore the name “Emmanuel.” “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). And he shall be called “Emmanuel,” God with us. This reality changes everything. Never is God so with us as in Jesus of Nazareth. Here is God-made-flesh, and in his very name, the Son of God proclaims just how with us and for us God really is. This fulfillment of prophetic promise offers us a delicate and dramatic reality: God has slipped into skin and walks among us in a totally new way, offering us life and salvation.
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25
Matthew’s story of Jesus’ birth focuses on the role of Joseph, who adopts the divinely-begotten child into the family of David and obediently gives him the name Jesus, which means “God saves.”
18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.