My husband and I have three children; our youngest is 28. It’s been awhile since we had an infant in the house, but our memories are vivid. Nothing is quite like that first time you hold your flesh-of-our-flesh, completely helpless, totally dependent newborn. “Holding your newborn rewires you. Suddenly you know you would do anything for the child in your arms,” a new father recently opined.
Planning for a child’s future is the hobby of new parents. Kindergarten? College? Career? Wedding? Grandchildren? A newborn is a kind of blank slate—full of possibilities. We may be tempted to live out our lives through our children, but we should always move toward setting them free to explore all those good possibilities. Our hope for our children overflows: hope that they will have good, long lives; hope that their obstacles will be few and their joys many; hope that they will succeed in all they attempt.
When Isaiah proclaims the son given to us, the prophet envisions his future and breezily skips over those middle years. The son moves from helpless newborn to one with authority . . . upon his shoulders, from infant to Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace (v. 6)
Isaiah named his oldest son Shear-jashub, which means “A remnant shall return” and the younger he named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, meaning, “Spoil quickly, plunder speedily.” But this child that Isaiah foresees has loftier names that convey breathtakingly high expectations. This expected child is no blank slate, but someone who offers new life to all people. Isaiah foresees a child who will inspire hope and embody it. As we approach the first Sunday of Advent this week, let’s prepare for Christ’s birth with renewed hope and breathtaking expectation.
What does Christ’s name mean to you?
God, you are the source of hope. Through all our days, may your light and hope fill our lives. Amen.