Fourth Sunday in Advent
Scripture Reference: Matt. 1:18-25 and Isa. 9:6
When you were born, you were each given something that is very important to you. It is something that you use now; and you will use it the rest of your life. The thing that you were given at birth is something that you share with others. In fact, if you never share this gift with anyone, then it cannot be used. Can you guess what this gift is? (Let children discuss possible answers; you may guide them.) When you were born, each of you was given a name. Can you tell me what some of your names are? (Children may share their names.) Do any of you have other names, such as nicknames or middle names? (Discuss.)
Jesus was given his name before he was born. He was God’s son and many months before he was born, God told Joseph and Mary to name him “Jesus.” The name Jesus means “the Lord saves.” This name was important because Jesus was sent by God to save the world from sin. Do any of you know what your names mean? (Discuss with children; you may offer the meaning of your own name as well.)
Jesus had other names, too. He was also called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” Jesus was God’s son, but he was also God himself, appearing here on earth to be with the people of the world. Jesus is given many other names in the Bible, and all of them tell us something about who Jesus is and what he does for us.
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, Jesus is called “Wonderful Counselor.” That would mean someone who was wise and could give good advice and comfort; someone who we can go to with all of our problems. He is also called “Mighty God.” That means that he is powerful and rules over everything. “Everlasting Father” is another name for Jesus. This shows us that the Father and the Son are one, and that Jesus is eternal; he will never die. Jesus is also called the “Prince of Peace,” meaning that he is the ruler, but he does not rule by force. Jesus does not bring wars or fighting; Jesus brings peace.
All of these names tell us about Jesus. But during Advent and Christmas, the name of Jesus that we think about the most is the name “Immanuel.” During Advent, we sing the hymn “Oh Come, Oh Come, Immanuel.” Jesus is God with us. The baby born at Christmas was God himself coming to live with us here on earth. “Immanuel” may sound like a strange name; it’s not a very common name, but it reminds us of something very important. When we invite Jesus in our hearts, God is right here with us.
Prayer: Our Lord Jesus, Immanuel, come and live in our hearts. Thank you for being with us and coming to our world at Christmas.