We are identified by our names so intimately that names become more than verbal pointers. In ancient cultures, names even held the essence of a person. For this reason Jacob and Moses both ask for God’s name. It is one way to get a handle on God, the mystery of life and their own life issues.
Jacob’s life is out of control and Moses has lost purpose. God doesn’t give his name to Jacob. To Moses he gives the name YaHWeH, which means I am what I am, a name that refuses to be defined. There is mystery to life and our unique experiences of life that will never go answered.
However, in baby Jesus we are finally given the name of God. It is “Emmanuel” which is God-is-with-us. This does not mean we have finally figured out God. Anyone who has held a newborn knows that the little helpless baby only increases the sense of wonder and mystery. Jesus doesn’t make God any less mysterious but we are given proof of God’s standing with us. God is for us.
This gives us confidence to trust God through the many mysteries and unanswered questions in our lives. This gives us joy even in midst of suffering. God is for us so who can stand against us?
- Share some nicknames you had as kid?
- What are some difficulties you are going through this Christmas season?
- How are your experience God’ presence?
Weekly Prayer: “Emmanuel. Thank you that though I don’t know everything, I know you are with me.”