Advent 2020 Reflection – Day Eighteen
Day 18 – Matthew 1 20 – 21
20 But after he had considered 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 home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”
What’s in a name?
I always had a hankering to call my daughter. Raven swordmistress of chaos, alas Ros would not agree! Her poor reasoning was that to have that name she would have had to have had black hair. Perhaps there was also a fear that her personaility might develop to suit her name! Whatever the reason it never happened.
It is true, however, that we choose our children’s names for any number of reasons. Family names, names we have liked, names that suit the baby in the few short days we have known them before choosing a name. It is equally the case that some of us like our own names and some of us choose to change them or adopt nicknames. Whatever our name it is an important part of us. It is how we are identified as an individual, in the case of nicknames it probably identifies one of our character traits.
It is also important that we know other people’s names. In some ways this is a measure of the value that we place upon a person when we meet with them. I am sure that some of you like me will have met someone in the street who knows your name but you just can’t drag theirs up from the dark corners of your memory. It is embarrasing because we can feel that we have not found them important enough to remember their name. Of course there are many reasons we don’t remember and not all of them negative but names are important.
In our passage today we are introduced to the naming of Mary and Joseph’s baby. A name which is not randomly chosen but heaven given and describes his mission as our saviour. As the passage explains the name Jesus means to deliver, to rescue. It is interesting to note that this verse is the only occasion in the New Testament where this combination of saving his people is linked with their sins.
However, there is more to this verse than the simple “choosing” of a name. This naming is a vital verse in the understanding of Matthews gospel. It introduces us to the reason for Jesus coming to save his people. This is a deep revelation, as this is something that only God was considered capable of doing. So in these few words the fact that Jesus is divine is also revealed. This is a framing verse for the whole of Matthew’s gospel which follows.
So to answer my first question. In a name, there is a vast revelation of the purpose of Jesus’ coming and life.
In our time of silence we think of the names of some of those we know and smile as we think of those whose names perfectly fit their personalities. If you would like to think of some of the names of Jesus and how they have featured in your journey with him.
I have chosen as my carol for today Let it be to me. Written foe Mary but as relevant to Jospeh and his acceptance of his role as earthly parent to Jesus and in accepting this even to giving Jesus the name he had been told to give. Had it not been Advent I would have chosen Jesus, what a beautiful name. I must apologise I thought we had recorded this as one of the 32! carols we have recorded in the last few weeks but I can’t find it if we have….. so here it is on YouTube
Loving God we thank you that in these few gospel words we have the mission of Jesus laid before us in the perfect meaning of his name. We thank you that you came to save each one of us to draw us away from the things which separate us from you, we can call them sins and sometimes they are but perhaps more often they are distractions and our lack of focus which keep us from you. Help us to set these things aside by following the example of Jesus.
Lord we long to hear your voice and pray that you will help us, like Mary and Joseph, to bend our lives to your will. Where you send us let us go in excitement and anticipation. Where you call us to inaction help us to be patient and remain ready to answer your call when it comes.
Let all I say and do, reflect your call to love one another, as we play our part in your redemptive purpose. Amen
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