• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Advent 4 A RCL December 18, 2016

Isaiah 7: 10-16
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25

In our opening reading today, King Ahaz of the Southern Kingdom, Judah, is facing an extremely difficult and dangerous situation. The year is 734 B.C. The powerful Assyrian Empire is threatening to conquer Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The kings of Syria and Israel want King Ahaz to join with them in an alliance against the Assyrians.

Isaiah has been trying to encourage Ahaz to remain neutral. Ahaz doesn’t want to listen. Now God is directly addressing King Ahaz, God is going to give a sign. But Ahaz does not want to hear about this sign. His excuse for the fact that he does not want to listen to God is that he does not want to put God to the test.

But God tells him about the sign anyway. A young woman is going to have a baby, and that baby is going to be named Immanuel, God with us. By the time this baby is old enough to choose the good over the evil, the Assyrian Empire will be a thing of the past.

God is saying that God will be with King Ahaz and all the people. King Ahaz chooses not to listen to God or to Isaiah. He decides to form an alliance with the Assyrians and they end up invading Jerusalem. Ahaz is an example of someone who likes to do things his own way. He does not listen to guidance from wise people like Isaiah. He does not even listen to God.

In our gospel for today, we have an example of someone very different from King Ahaz, Joseph of Nazareth. Joseph is betrothed to a young woman named Mary. This is a wonderful thing. But something has happened which has cast a shadow over Joseph’s life. Mary is going to have a baby, and Joseph knows that he is not the father of this baby.

He had thought that Mary was someone who took commitments very seriously. She had seemed honest and full of sincerity and integrity. You and I know that Mary does take commitments seriously. She follows her son to the foot of the cross and stays there until the bitter end.

But Joseph, who is usually calm and level-headed, is upset, There is only one explanation for this, on the earthly level, and so he makes a decision to divorce Mary quietly to spare her feelings and her reputation. We need to remember that, in those days, being betrothed was like being married. Under the circumstances, it appears that she has committed adultery, and, in that culture and that time, we know that women were stoned to death for that crime. We also remember that Jesus as he encountered a crowd about to throw stones at a woman caught in adultery, said, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone,” and they put down their stones and walked away.

But to get back to our gospel, Joseph has resolved to divorce Mary quietly and try to preserve her reputation.

Now we need to remember that Joseph is a man of prayer. He is close to God. Unlike King Ahaz, he listens for God’s guidance. That night, an angel appears to him in a dream. This often happened back then, God would speak to people in their dreams. It actually happens today as well. The angel tells Joseph the truth about this baby. The angel even tells Joseph what to name the baby, Jesus. This baby is going to be God with us, Immanuel.

Joseph is a man of deep faith. He listens to every word the angel says to him. He knows this is a message from God. Quietly, faithfully, Joseph accepts God’s call to be the foster father of Jesus.  We know that Joseph will protect Mary as they travel to Bethlehem. We know that King Herod is going to try to have all the baby boys under the age of two killed, and that Joseph will take Mary and Jesus to Egypt so that they will be safe. We can imagine Joseph teaching Jesus in his carpenter shop when Jesus gets old enough. This wise, patient, gentle, courageous, faithful man is saying Yes to an extraordinary vocation—bringing up the child of God as a foster father. Jesus could have been born under the shadow of illegitimacy. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were refugees when they fled into Egypt. Always, Joseph was there to protect Jesus and Mary and to seek and accept God’s guidance.

What a contrast there is between Joseph and King Ahaz. I don’t know about you but I have actually met people who, when offered wise guidance, have said, in so many words, “I like to do things my own way.” That’s the Ahaz approach to life.

Joseph kept listening to God and followed every direction. He devoted his life to taking care of Mary and Jesus. What a wonderful holy example for us today. Do we realize that God is as close as our breath? Do we listen for the guidance of God as Joseph did?

Emmanuel. God with us. Our God who loves us so much is coming to live among us, full of grace and truth. May we make room for him in our hearts and lives. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: