“So the Lord himself will give you this sign:
A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
and she will name him Immanuel [God Is With Us].”
Try to imagine young Mary, a teenager, unmarried, having grown up under the powerful, evil rule of an occupying government, where every move you make is watched, controlled, and dictated by cruel men who have no tolerance for nor acknowledgement of the God of Israel. Underneath that dangerous dynamic was the power of the Jewish religious leadership, whose authority dictated all daily life…especially the inner world of faith, attitudes, behaviors and connections with God.
Mary would have been taught the ancient Scripture prophecies about the Messiah Who was to come….the One who would save her people from thousands of years of suffering.
In a moment of her everyday life, she was transported into the ancient Story…the ancient Promise that they had all been longing for.
She would carry and give birth to that baby boy, “Immanuel.” God is With Us. God had set it up…every detail, and brought Mary into that world-changing story. God entrusted Himself in the most vulnerable form, into the arms of a young girl… She would have to hold Him close to her heart from the moment He entered this world.
The angel instructed both Joseph and Mary, separately, to name her baby, “Jesus.” (Meaning: He Saves.”) A far more common, unassuming, and simple name. I wonder if that wasn’t a ‘mercy’ for that new family. Can you imagine how complicated it would have been if the “official” ‘Immanuel’ was the public name! “God-with-us”, it’s time to eat! God-with-us, where are you? God-with-us, come help your father!”
Oh! How she would need to know that God was with her from that day on. Every day. Every time she spoke her tiny baby’s name…every time she called to him as he played or approached an everyday danger, or heard the cruel whispers of shame from her neighbors.
“God is with us.”
“God is with me.”
As we walk through these days remembering that moment in Time when God came to us in baby-form, may our hearts embrace God where He always intended to be….With Us.