In 2015 I collaborated with a few others to write an Advent devotional for the members of our church to use. The following is one of my offerings for that devotional.
“Therefore the Lord will give you a sign: The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
There is an old ‘60’s song that sings about signs: signs…signs…everywhere a sign… Everywhere we look in our world today there are signs. Signs that tell us where to park, which direction to go, what to see, what to do, what not to do…On top of all the physical signs, we also look for ‘signs’ to tell us what decisions to make. Signs that don’t really exist but we look for them none the less. We seek these signs to give us hope…hope that we are making a good decision…hope that we are making the right choice. The funny thing about all the signs we manufacture is they really can’t give us any hope at all.
In the time of Isaiah, God offers to give Judah a sign of hope. It was a time in history when the nation of Israel was in crisis and desperately needed to know that God would be with them. So God gives them a sign: a child will be born and his name will be Immanuel which means “God with us”. This Immanuel passage in Isaiah is the same passage we see in Matthew when we are told yet again that a child will be born whose name will be Immanuel – God with us. There has never been a greater sign than the birth of God’s own son. A sign that offers hope, comfort, grace, love, mercy, forgiveness…a sign that God is indeed with us in all of life’s messiness and joy.
So my prayer for all of you in this season of Advent is that God will be with you as you enjoy each and every day with family and friends celebrating the most wonderful sign: the birth of God’s only son.