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Isaiah 9:2-7 (CEB)

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
    On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.
You have made the nation great;
    you have increased its joy.
They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest,
    as those who divide plunder rejoice.
As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them,
    the staff on their shoulders,
    and the rod of their oppressor.
Because every boot of the thundering warriors,
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned, fuel for the fire.
A child is born to us, a son is given to us,
    and authority will be on his shoulders.
    He will be named
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be vast authority and endless peace
    for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
    establishing and sustaining it
    with justice and righteousness
    now and forever.

The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.


In this text prophesying the birth of the Messiah, there are many pieces to get drawn into: the gift of light in darkness, shattering the burdening of yoke and the promise of an established and sustained justice and righteousness eternally.

I love, though, any text where the writer attempts to put to words a name for God. We see many beautiful, lyrical names for God throughout scripture, but here we are given four that we may have heard before: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace.

Wonderful, mighty, eternal, peaceful.

Depending on the source, the name for God in the Torah has been noted as being YHWH (the Hebrew written language contains no vowels). This is considered the holiest of God’s names and many of the Jewish tradition do not say it aloud. It’s also considered unspeakable in its nature of being made up of non-articulated sounds. That is to say rather, that it is breathed. There’s no way, then, to pronounce God’s name, we can only breathe God’s name.

Despite the magnificent names we give God, they are never all-encompassing. There’s no way for us, in the limitations of language, to be able to fully identify God with a name. But our breath, the indicator of life, as being the name of God – this is compelling to me. Particularly when thinking about it in this time of Christmas, where God as Christ breathes the same breath we do.

By Rachel Callender

For Pondering & Prayer

I invite you to take a few moments, close your eyes and intentionally think about your inhale an exhale. Image each inhale and exhale being a syllable for God’s name, and give thanks.

Prayer: God of Life, you have given us each breath and the capacity to breathe who you are in and through us constantly. As we stop and breathe in the last days of 2020, remind us of your presence as we look into a new year. Amen.