Merry day after Christmas! I hope you had a lovely day, fully present to Jesus and loved ones around you.
Friday I posted on different attitudes towards canceling church on Christmas day, including my own
whine well reasoned argument against John signing our family up to lead in worship. Well the troops rallied and it was a delightful day. Since I’m following the advice of my blog “mentor”, Jon Acuff and taking a little break this week, I thought I’d just post what I shared in church yesterday.
Twenty-six years ago this past week John and I were waiting for a baby to arrive. It was Advent so we were waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But we were also expecting our first baby.
I was 8 months pregnant and like all expectant parents we were discussing names. We couldn’t agree, but it wasn’t for lack of resources.
We had a baby book with the meanings of names.
And even a Christian version with Bible verses for each name’s meaning.
And then we had, you know… the whole BIBLE, with all those holy names to choose from. But…we had…issues.
I had been an elementary school teacher which meant we had to nix any names that had belonged to problem kids I had had in class. I used to love the name Jeremy until I had a third grade “Jeremy” who was worse than Dennis the Menace and Osama bin Laden. So Jeremy was out. And so was Alex. And Michael.
Then we had trouble agreeing on the type of name. I like unusual names, and would have no problem naming a child Zechariah (my cousin has kids named Cosmo and Zappa so he’d feel right at home). But John likes the classics (and the name “John” in particular), so there was no way we could agree on a boy’s name that was acceptable. It’s a good thing we had a girl.
When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph didn’t have to have the “What shall we name him” conversation fraught with the potential disagreements. I know there are a lot of downsides, to being the parents of the Messiah, but this is a perk. They had an ANGEL show up and say, “Here’s the deal. You’re gonna have a baby and I want you to name Him Jesus. Got that? Jesus. Not Joe.”
But we know from Scripture that Jesus would have a bunch of nicknames too.
Isaiah 9: 6 says: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
I picture Joseph, big burly carpenter with large callused hands from hard labor gently cradling this tiny baby in his big hands, looking in awe at this new life and saying. “His name is Jesus, the one who saves.”
How can all this be wrapped up in this tiny baby Jesus? Because God Himself is wrapped up in this tiny baby Jesus.
Emmanuel. God with us.
We invited people to take a few minutes to reflect on these and other names for God. Which of these names do you need to hear the most today? Which name means the most to you?
When you feel alone He is Immanuel, God with us.
Hebrews 13:5 He says: Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.
When we’re confused, He is our Wonderful Counselor
Ps. 16:7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand I will not be shaken.
When we are feeling weak we need to be reminded He is the Mighty God
Ps. 50:1 The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
Though earthly fathers may fail us, He is our Everlasting Father
Ps. 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His Holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…
When we are anxious He is our Prince of Peace.
Is. 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.
When we long to be comforted and cared for, He is our Shepherd.
Is. 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.
When we feel we’re in darkness He is the Light.
Ps. 18:28 You Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
When we are separated from God by sin, He is our Advocate
Jn 2:1 if anyone sins, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
When we fear death, He is the Resurrection and life
Jn 11:25 I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes I me will live, even though they die.
When we are struggling with darkness and depression He is the Dayspring
Lk 1:78-79 Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
People were invited to come forward and write the name most precious to them.