Giving Shalom: Advent Day 21

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” (Luke 1:30–33 NLT)

Names within the Bible, especially those of children, often bear much weight within their meaning. For example, Hannah named her son Samuel, which means “heard by God,” because God heard her plea for a son in the midst of her barrenness. In the case of the incarnate Christ, the angel Gabriel told Mary to name him Jesus because it means “the Lord saves.” We often think of this salvation in terms of conquering sin and death, which it does, but there is much more to it than that.

In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard writes that Jesus “matters because of what he brought and what he still brings to ordinary human beings, living their ordinary lives and coping daily with their surroundings. He promises wholeness for their lives. In sharing our weaknesses he gives us strength and imparts through his companionship a life that has the quality of eternity.” Through living among us, Jesus shared in our weaknesses, and Jesus ultimately saves us by bringing us to a place of wholeness—shalom. It is our divine invitation to share with others what this wholeness can look like. Consider how you might, to paraphrase Jeremiah 29:7, seek the welfare of others over the weekend and beyond.