“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)
I grew up in a home where we used mostly name brand products. Crest tooth paste, JIF peanut butter, and Oreo cookies. There were generic versions of these products, as well as other competitor’s similar products, but we always bought name brand. Whenever we went on vacation as a family we would ALWAYS stay at a Holiday Inn, because back then it was reliable and clean. As an adult I have carried on with some of the name brand training I received. Some of the names are different, but I still prefer a name brand over a generic product.
When Debbie and I were first dating I learned a term that the pharmaceutical companies worked to get their doctors to use. The term was “medically necessary” and was written on a prescription so that the pharmacist would not fill the prescription with a generic drug. The doctor was indicating that the brand name drug was "medically necessary" for their patient. So what is it about a brand name? I believe with my parents, with me as an adult, and with doctors (in some cases) the name brand yields a level of trust. You can trust (in theory) that the brand name will deliver a better quality and more consistent experience. It is a name you can trust.
I wonder if that is why God gave the prophecy of what his Son would be called. The prophecy said that the virgin would give birth to a son and he will be called Immanuel. This is God’s chosen name for the One who would save the world. In the Bible there are several names given for the One who would save all of humanity. The one we draw out most often during Advent is Immanuel – which means God with us. The reason this name, actually more of a title, is so important during Advent is because of the promise it offers. God with us! When we hear the title Immanuel used for the long expected Jesus during Advent we should be amazed.
Think of all the times in the Old Testament where God is with us. A voice in a dream, a burning bush, a pillar of cloud and fire … the list goes on. In the prophecy of Isaiah and the angel in Matthew the promise is that God would be with us very differently. In human form, a little baby. That was an amazing new reality. This is one of the reasons I love The Gospel of John and the fact that the Word became flesh – God with us! So when we sing Emmanuel this week in worship it should bring a smile to our face. The anticipation of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us should be more than we can possibly contain. There truly is something in a name … and he will be called Immanuel, which means God with us.
This Sunday is the second week of Advent. I pray that you will experience God with us at either the 8:15, NINE45, or 11:15 service. This is an exciting time of anticipation at St. Andrew’s. I can’t wait to see you in church!