Advent Worship 12/12/12 What difference does a name make? In contemporary culture, a name is famous for being famous. And we lose the significance of a name. Our readings tonight focus on Name, the name of promise in Jeremiah, the name of the Child, the name by which we are saved.
Jeremiah 23:1-6 GW
“How horrible it will be for the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep in my care,” declares the LORD.
“This is what I, the LORD God of Israel, said to the shepherds who take care of my people: You have scattered my sheep and chased them away. You have not taken care of them, so now I will take care of you by punishing you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD.
“Then I will gather the remaining part of my flock from all the countries where I chased them. I will bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fertile and increase in number. I will put shepherds over them. Those shepherds will take care of them. My sheep will no longer be afraid or terrified, and not one of them will be missing,” declares the LORD.
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will grow a righteous branch for David.
He will be a king who will rule wisely.
He will do what is fair and right in the land.
In his lifetime, Judah will be saved,
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name that he will be given:
The LORD Our Righteousness.”
Acts 4:1-12 GW
Some priests, the officer in charge of the temple guards, and some Sadducees approached Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. These religious authorities were greatly annoyed. Peter and John were teaching the people and spreading the message that the dead will come back to life through Jesus. So the temple guards arrested them. Since it was already evening, they put Peter and John in jail until the next day.
But many of those who had heard the message became believers, so the number of men who believed grew to about 5,000.
The next day the Jewish rulers, leaders, and scribes met in Jerusalem. The chief priest Annas, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and the rest of the chief priest’s family were present. They made Peter and John stand in front of them and then asked, “By what power or in whose name did you do this?”
Then Peter, because he was filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and leaders of the people, today you are cross-examining us about the good we did for a crippled man. You want to know how he was made well. You and all the people of Israel must understand that this man stands in your presence with a healthy body because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You crucified Jesus Christ, but God has brought him back to life. He is the stone that the builders rejected, the stone that has become the cornerstone. No one else can save us. Indeed, we can be saved only by the power of the one named Jesus and not by any other person.”
Matthew 1:18-25 GW
The birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. His mother Mary had been promised to Joseph in marriage. But before they were married, Mary realized that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph was an honorable man and did not want to disgrace her publicly. So he decided to break the marriage agreement with her secretly.
Joseph had this in mind when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said to him, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus [He Saves], because he will save his people from their sins.” All this happened so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet came true: “The virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him to do. He took Mary to be his wife. He did not have marital relations with her before she gave birth to a son. Joseph named the child Jesus.
What’s in a name?
Everything! If that name is Jesus, Yahweh is our Righteousness, Emmanuel.
Come tonight as we worship with Advent and Christmas songs and reflect on the “name above all other names” (Phil. 2:9-10).