Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bishop’s Note: December 22, 2016 – Immanuel & Jesus

Bishop Eric Menees

“…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
(Matthew 1:20-25 ESV)

 This Sunday we will celebrate the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Scripture attributes many names and titles to Jesus. But as we heard last Sunday from the 1st Chapter of Matthew, there are two primary names: Immanuel and Jesus.

Immanuel, which means “God with us,” was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and an accurate descriptor of what had taken place in the person of Jesus. St. Paul states it perfectly: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:5-7)

At the annunciation the Angel tells Joseph exactly what the name Jesus means: “God Saves.” And that is exactly what Jesus – God incarnate – does! He saves us by Faith, through Grace.  Jesus received the wrath of God on the cross in order to save us from the due punishment for our sins.

Ultimately this is all a mystery of Love that Christmas catches so beautifully in the hymns that we will sing…

Joy to the world! The Lord is come: let earth receive her King: let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing…

God rest you merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay; remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day, to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray...

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be, he is Alpha and Omega, he the source, the ending he, of the things are, that have been, and that future years shall see, evermore and evermore.

May this mystery, grandeur, joy, and love be yours this Christmas!

Thirty-nine Articles of Religion

VII. Of the Old Testament

 The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

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