I’m so pleased to share with you another guest post by my friend Veronica Gerber. I know you’ll be blessed by her wisdom!


What’s in a name?

So it’s Christmas time again … when we remember Jesus’ birth:

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Do you have a favourite way of addressing God or thinking of Jesus?

I’m quite partial to Emmanuel which means “God with us” … ever alongside those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. It’s all too easy to lose sight, so to speak, of Jesus being with us in the day-to-day, especially during the hustle and bustle of Christmas, wouldn’t you say?

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

C.S. Lewis has written about God’s plan, “The whole thing narrows and narrows, until at last it comes down to a little point, small as the point of a spear—a Jewish girl at her prayers.”

Today as I read the accounts of Jesus’ birth I tremble to think of the fate of the world resting on the responses of two rural teenagers long ago. How many times did Mary review the angel’s words? How many times did Joseph second-guess his own encounter with an angel—“Was it just a dream?”—as he endured the hot shame of living among villagers who could plainly see the changing shape of his fiancée?

Mary, the virgin, whose parenthood was unplanned, had a commendable response to the angel. She heard the angel out, pondered the repercussions, and nonetheless replied:

“I am the Lord’s servant.
May it be to me as you have said.”

Often a work of God comes with two edges, great joy and great pain … as is the joy and travail of giving birth. In Mary’s matter-of-fact response, she embraced both. She was the first person to accept Jesus on his own terms, regardless of the personal cost. An ordinary beginning, an extraordinary journey.

It makes me wonder what work of God hinges on me at my prayers? And on you and your prayers?

Mary was in that position where she could hear from God. 2000 years later, can we say the same? Are we in that position where we can hear from God … and then respond in like manner?

“I am the Lord’s servant.”

You know, believers do not pray to God to tell him things he doesn’t know or to motivate him to keep his promises or to urge him to do what he really doesn’t want to do at all. Rather, prayer is for God’s glory and for our benefit—to exercise our faith and to cast our worries on God, and hence acknowledge his sovereignty in our lives.

Each advent season heralds anew the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth and, in particular, to each one of us. At this time of year we naturally think of him as the babe in the manner, but he is also the Lord at the door.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door [via prayer], I will come in to him, and with sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

To pray is to let Jesus come into our hearts. He knocks. Thereby he makes known his desire to come in to us, to sup with us. Our prayers are always the result of Jesus’ knocking at our hearts’ doors.

In biblical language the common meal is symbolic of intimate and happy fellowship, and so here God reveals prayer as a means of intimate and happy fellowship between God and ourselves.

God with us, Emmanuel, and God at the door, knocking. Will I open the door? Will you?

What keeps us from prayer? Indeed, keeps us from God? For many I suspect it’s a vague, perhaps undefined, fear … fear of the unknown or truth-to-tell, perhaps it’s a fear of the known! Whatever. We do not need to be afraid of the darkness of our world. God’s Word promises that where there is darkness, Jesus’ light will shine brighter.

There is no limit to what God can accomplish through you! But we need to be aware of how we can bring God’s salt and light to a waiting world. May your heart be open in prayer to hear God’s purpose for your life. Only he knows what he has planned for you.

Just as God arranged the circumstances in which Jesus was to be born on planet earth, and we marvel at that, so too has he arranged your own entrance onto the world stage. In Jesus’ case his lot was characterized as one without power or wealth, without rights, without justice.

Sound familiar?

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Emmanuel: A God who was and is like one of us and who now is God with us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus identifies with you, as you are, where you are.

As the new year stretches out ahead, let’s ponder such thoughts as Mary did, and launch into the unknown of 2023 with these words of Isaiah as our strength and encouragement:

“Let him who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on his God.” (Isaiah 50:10)
“ ‘I will take hold of your hand…
I will lead you by ways you have not know,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide you.
I will turn the darkness into light before you
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do,’
says the Lord your God.” (Isaiah 42:16)

Remember Jesus’ name, Emmanuel, God with us.

Take hold of the hand of God in prayer because of the finished work of Jesus and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit within.

© 2003, 2022 Veronica Gerber. All rights reserved.

If you liked Veronica’s writing, you’ll love her music! Visit her page at:
www.soundcloud.com/veronicagerber

© 2022 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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