Matthew 1:23


Reflection: Emmanuel, another name for Jesus, or is it? The prophets certainly said He would be named Emmanuel, but elsewhere in this scripture text Joseph was instructed by an angel to name Mary’s child “Jesus” and he (or they) did so. This phrase in Matthew is taken from Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8, but the name “Emmanuel” does not appear anywhere else in the New Testament. So, it’s fair to suggest that the prophets were really prophesying who Jesus would be, not specifying a name.

In fact, many of the names, such as Master, Teacher, and Lord that were used in the early church and then appeared in the New Testament, had been selected to underscore the message, mission, and teachings of Jesus. In that context, I would choose LOVE, which admittedly doesn’t work very well as a name. But to me it most accurately and completely embodies Christ’s message.

A picture in my office I cherish the most is one I took when 10 years old. It’s a photo of my parents, aunts, and uncles on our porch. Why “cherish”? Because it radiates the love that was in our family. Despite differences in personalities and abilities we all cared deeply for each other which was never more evident than at this time of year.

We were a large, extended family numbering about 40. My uncle would sponsor Thanksgiving dinner each year at the General Sutter in Lititz. This is when we’d “exchange names” and buy a small gift for the individual whose name we’d chosen. Then on Christmas Eve, after church, we’d gather at another uncle’s house to celebrate. On Christmas Day, my mother and aunt would alternate preparing Christmas dinner for everyone. When I was old enough it was a treat to sit at the “adult” table rather than the one for the “kids.”  How fortunate I was to grow up in family taught to LOVE by my Mennonite grandfather.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to love all others, no exceptions.

John Hershey