Podcast: Play in new window
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | More
Now 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. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But 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. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.
Every Christmas we gather in our churches, we hear the familiar readings from scripture and we sing hymns and carols. One of the words that features a lot in both scripture and in our carols is Emmanuel. It is not a word that we tend to use in our everyday speech, and yet it is an important word in the context of our faith. Emmanuel is a Hebrew word that occurs immediately after the genealogy of Jesus we reflected upon yesterday. It is an indication of the role Jesus was destined to play in the history of humanity. Emmanuel is the name foretold in the writings of the prophet Isaiah, when he says: ‘Look, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’
The genealogy was a writer’s attempt to justify the importance of Jesus in the eyes of those who afforded credence to such matters. The words of the angel to Joseph, put Jesus into his proper context: Emmanuel … God is with us.
As we journey through the final days of Advent we are invited to examine how focused we really are on the Incarnation of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, the One who came into the world to bring forgiveness and redemption to us all.
As the days speed past we tend to become less focused on that which is truly important and increasingly obsessed with meeting the irrelevant deadlines and demands of this world, rather than making the prayerful journey to the stable in the hilltop town of Bethlehem. As the next week passes we will worry about presents, and cards, and social gatherings, and food, and all the other nonsense that has grown around our celebration of that which is central to our faith: the Incarnation of Jesus.
Jesus was born in a humble stable. As he came in all humility, we are called to live our lives in humility. As he came to give his entire self in love and service to humanity, we are called to love and serve in his name, and in the completeness he modelled for us. Let us pray that we may know the joy of Emmanuel … God is with us as we come towards the end of our Advent pilgrimage in the coming week.