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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

4th Sunday of Advent, Year A

  • 6-9 year olds

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’

Throughout the Bible we can find many names and titles for Jesus. You can find one for each day of Advent and still have more to find! Thinking about the different names and titles can help us go deeper into the mystery of who Jesus is, deeper into the mystery of God.

In the Gospel for the fourth Sunday of Advent this year, we hear 2 names for this child: Jesus, which means something like "he who saves," and Emmanuel, which means "God is with us." What can we learn from these two names?

God is with us. This name makes it pretty clear who Jesus is. We know that Jesus is God, and, at the very same time, human like us. Both. But this would have been HUGE news--both at the time of Jesus' birth and at the time of Jesus' birth into his Risen Life, the life that can never end.

The name Emmanuel (also spelled Immanuel) had been heard by the prophet Isaiah long, long before Jesus was born. A child who would be called God-is-with-us. A child who IS God with us! This is new. God entering into time as a baby. What does this tell us about how much God wants to be with us? This is something we can think about and enjoy during these next few days before Christmas. How MUCH God wants to be with us!

This Advent, I was with some children about your age, thinking about this name for Jesus: "Emmanuel." One girl said, "If Jesus is 'God-with-us,' then why do we sing, 'O come, O come, Emmanuel'?" She meant, if God is already with us, why are we asking God to come?

That is a very good question.

Could it be that God is with us, but we are not with God? What prevents us--what stops us--from being with God?

Let's look at what the angel says,

you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins

Remember, the name "Jesus" means "he who saves." The angel explains that he will save people from their sins. Do our sins prevent us from being fully with God? Do we sing "come, Emmanuel," because we need to be set free from our sins so that we can be with God-with-us?

We can't get ourselves out of our mess, but Jesus can. Jesus saves us, because he is Emmanuel. How much he wants to be with us!

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