In Matthew’s account, two names are given for the child born in Bethlehem; Jesus, which means ‘saviour’ (“for he will save his people from their sins,” Mt. 1.12) and Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’ (Mt.1.23). The “God is with us” idea is special to me this Christmas. “Incarnation” is the theological word; God revealed to us in human form, in Jesus, but also in each other.
In our frst year at St Philip’s, the love and welcome the people of St. Philip’s gave James and I was “Immanuel” for us. The peace of our new home was also “Immanuel”. As we tell the stories, share good friendship, good humour and good food, James and I feel deeply grateful. There are many not so well off, to be sure; even now we pray for the peace and freedom of Jesus’ very birthplace, Bethlehem. But in response to the needs of others, we need not despise the good things we have. Jesus accepted hospitality, good food and wine. Yet he ultimately gave his very life for the good of all. Photograph – Revd Linda Anchell, St. Philip’s