Sunday, December 20, 2015

You Are to Give Him the Name Jesus

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1: 20-21

Well, after the whirlwind that went on in Joseph’s head following Mary’s announcement, I imagine him retiring to the most private place he could find…I imagine him lying on his bed, hands on his head, trying to figure out what he should do now…when, out of exhaustion, pain and worry, he falls asleep. God’s Mercy giving him a way out…a moment to rest…a time to find peace…in his sleep, God’s Mercy, again, gives him a divine message: do not be afraid.

The Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph. That shows the magnitude of the moment. It isn’t every day that your girlfriend says she is miraculously pregnant. For a man, any man, to believe that, it would take a divine encounter…the most divine revelation to corroborate it as truth. So God did just that by sending Joseph His Angel.

God does not forsake His faithful ones (Psalm 37: 28). The same way He did not abandon Mary, He did not abandon Joseph in his hour of despair. God’s plan included Joseph to be the adoptive father of His own Son. It was going to work out, regardless of how improbable it seemed.

The Angel greeted Joseph by his royal lineage. “Joseph, son of David,” a clear reference to the validity of the claim that the baby Mary was carrying was, indeed, the Messiah, “a shoot from the stump of Jesse.” (Isaiah 11:1) And he also told Joseph to take Mary to his house…and most significantly, He told Joseph to name the child… “you are to give him the name Jesus…” By giving him the authority to name His Son, God gave Joseph the authority to be His father.

It isn’t easy to be an adoptive parent. Much doubt comes to mind and the feelings of inadequacy that you experience when having a biological child, multiply when expecting to parent an adoptive child. And in the long list of the challenges of adoption, naming your adoptive child is among the top ones. Does the child already have a name? Do you keep that birth name? Do you change it completely? Do you give him/her a family name? Do you give him/her a totally new name?

At least Joseph didn’t have to worry about that. God told him what to name his adoptive child. In our case, we had to make the decision on our own. Dylan had a birth name when we adopted him. His name was Carlos Antonio. We thought about it. We pondered it. We prayed about it. Finally, we decided that since he would grow up in the United States, it would be better for him to have a more English-sounding name. We knew we wanted a name starting with a D. We knew we didn’t want it to be Daniel since we wanted the child to have his own identity.

So out of all the English-sounding-D names we could think of, we kept coming back to Dylan, especially because singer-song-writer, Bob Dylan had been such a permanent companion in our relationship since Dan and I were dating. I tell you, Dan could sing EVERY Bob Dylan song ever written…and if you have ever heard a Bob Dylan song, you know that is not a skill to be taken lightly. I have to tell you that I hated Bob Dylan at the beginning of our relationship. I just couldn’t get past his chipmunk voice. But over the years, he grew on me. Listening to Dan sing such intricate songs with such gusto endeared the music and the style to me and I ended up being a closeted-Bob Dylan fan…don’t tell Dan!

So, after some consideration, we decided on Dylan. Then, we knew we wanted him to keep some of his birth identity, so we kept Carlos as his middle name. I pray the Lord will bless his name, as I know He does since He knew his name would be Dylan way before he was born…just as He knew Jesus’.

As any adoptive parent can tell you, Joseph didn’t have it easy. Despite the fact that the Angel of the Lord came to him in person to confirm that everything was OK and that he needed not be afraid about taking in Mary and her unborn baby to be his family, Joseph’s life was not going to be easy. But one thing it was, indeed, as any adoptive parenting would also tell you… it was miraculously wonderful!

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