So, I know you think that with Christmas coming this week, this post is all about the arrival of the Christ child – and we will end up there, eventually. But there is, as usual, a story coming first.
Like many others, we have an Amazon Echo in our home. You know, the thing where you ask Alexa questions, or ask “her” to perform certain functions – such as turning the lights off or setting a timer to watch stuff in the oven or on the stove. You can ask Alexa to play songs, answer historical questions and do a host of other things if you are really into that. But in our home, it’s pretty basic. Lights get turned off before we go to bed, we ask about the weather each morning (Janet is obsessive with knowing the weather report) and we set timers for the stove. That’s about it – we are rather simple when it comes to technology.
But each month, it becomes more obvious that Alexa continues to evolve and we receive periodic emails about all the latest things that you can now do with this technology. We have played Jeopardy and answered quizzes, but yesterday morning something different happened. In fact, it was kind of surprising…
After the typical morning briefing that we receive about the news and weather, Alexa proceeded to announce that the name “Janet” means “gift from God” in Hebrew – and in England, it means “God’s gracious gift.” It is also a Scottish name that has its history from the French “Jeanette” and in the “olden days” the name Janet was the most common feminine form of the name “John.”
Of course, we both heard this and thought it was pretty cool. So, I asked Alexa what the name Scott meant. It is a Scottish name and means “wanderer.” Frankly, that isn’t nearly as neat as having a name that means you are a gift from God. However, for more than 47 years, Janet has been a gift to me from God. And so it is incredibly appropriate that we learned what her name means the very week that we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus – God in human form.
Make no mistake – I believe each of us is a gift from God to others in our circle of friends and family. That has certainly been the case in our lives together throughout the years. But in a few days we will be celebrating the ultimate gift from God – the living, breathing, baby Jesus – born in a stable and lying in a manger.
Angels announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds tending their flocks at the time. It is very interesting to note that God chose to announce the birth of His Son to shepherds. After all, these lowly shepherds then let others know that the ultimate Shepherd had been born – the shepherd who would tend to us, his flock, forever.
The verse for tonight comes from the prophecy of Isaiah that Immanuel would be born. In fact, Matthew reiterates the announcement in his Gospel. Matthew tells us, in Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” And what a gift that was!
My encouragement this evening is that we have received a gift of incalculable magnitude – the birth of Jesus to live among us and eventually cover our sins with His blood. My prayer is that was we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas, we will ponder the mystery and wonder of what took place in Bethlehem that evening! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…