Everyone knows that Jesus’ middle name begins with the letter H. As in, “Jesus H. Christ, you tracked mud all over the house, and I’m having company over this afternoon!” Or “Jesus H. Christ, why can’t Congress get something done?!”
I don’t know what that ‘H’ would stand for. Holy? Handsome? Heliotrope?
I’ve been taught that “Jesus” is English for the Greek for the Hebrew (Aramaic?) Yeshua, meaning “God saves us.” But right now I’m thanking God that Jesus’ other name (although it seems no one actually called him by this name) is “Immanuel” = “God with us.” It’s certainly more satisfying, in one’s anger, to say “Jesus H. Christ” than “Jesus I. Christ,” so maybe that’s why Immanuel never caught on.
This Advent I’m finding it very comforting to consider God with us. Maybe that’s because I see that God does not save us from unpleasantness and difficulty, such as the decline in a loved one’s health, the stubbornness of a child getting bad grades because she refuses to take responsibility, or the machinations of Congress. (The only thing that can be said about Congress is “Oy vey” with a sad shake of the head.) Listing these difficulties that I face makes them seem petty, as I know that there are far greater difficulties in life than these. I’m so grateful that God is with us as we struggle through these parts of life. The idea that God is with me makes these things bearable.
It’s a good thing that God being with us doesn’t depend on
- how much or how well you have decorated your house
- doing your homework
- whether or not you stayed for the entire aerobics class
- obeying the speed limit
- buying the perfect gift
- a whole host of other things
Thanks, God, for Immanuel, God-with-us.