"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet, 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us')" Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV).
We are once again in the midst of the Advent and Christmas season. There are numerous special gatherings and observances, services at church, exchange of gifts in the home and place of work, and a hectic schedule of celebration. By the time Christmas Eve arrives, many people will be completely exhausted, bank accounts will be strained, and the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge may be more evident than the true spirit and meaning of Christmas.
In contemplating once again the message of verses 22-23 from the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, there is a powerful and important message that cuts to the core of the real meaning of this season of the year. The prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 has been fulfilled in the amazing news of the conception of a baby by the Holy Spirit and that a girl by the name of Mary, who is a virgin, will give birth to a son and that he will be called "Immanuel."
Immanuel - God with us! Take a moment and consider the power of that simple summary of the meaning of the name Immanuel - God with us! That is what this is all about. It's not just about the secular manifestations of the season. It's not even just about the services we have at church in celebration of the season. And while we are called to minister to the "least of these" in the season and in all seasons of the year, it's even more than that! It is about God becoming man; God sending His only begotten Son so that you and I might have life eternal; God intervening in the course of history so that might have the opportunity to choose everlasting life; God Incarnate - that is God becoming flesh!
Will you join me, and our congregation, in considering the meaning of "Immanuel?" God with us! That, my friends, is a powerful and important summary of what Christmas is really about. God is with us - now and forever!