• 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 4A December 22, 2019

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

In our first reading today, it is 732 B.C. E. King Ahaz of Judah is in a tough situation. The Assyrian Empire is growing in power. The King’s other northern neighbors, Syria, with its capital Damascus, and  Israel, with its capital Samaria, want him to join them in an alliance against the Assyrians.

The prophet Isaiah is calling Ahaz to have trust in God and to remain neutral in this conflict. Ahaz is only twenty years old, but he really does not want to hear what Isaiah has to say. Biblical scholar Robert Kysar says that Ahaz is telling Isaiah, “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” (Kysar, New Proclamation Series A, 1998-1999, p. 25.)

King Ahaz has decided that the best thing to do is to make an alliance with the Assyrians. This will result in disaster as Judah will lose its independence and fall under the control of the powerful Assyrian Empire.

But God never gives up on us, and Isaiah tells the young king that God will send a child born of a young woman, and he shall be called Emmanuel, God with us.

In our gospel, we read about the circumstances of Jesus’ birth. Joseph and Mary are engaged. They have made solemn vows that they will be married and they will be faithful to each other. We enter the story after Mary has told Joseph that she is pregnant. Now Joseph is in an agonizing situation. To all earthly and human appearances, the woman he loves has been unfaithful to him. This astounds Joseph beyond all measure since he has always felt that Mary is as faithful as anyone can be. Looking in on this scene, with two thousand years of hindsight, we know that she is an icon of faith. Later, she will follow Jesus every step of the way and stand at the foot of that horrible cross until every bit of his life has drained out of him.

One thing that always strikes me when we read these lessons is the enormous difference between King Ahaz and Joseph. The text tells us that Joseph is a righteous man. Righteous does not mean someone who thinks he or she knows everything, someone who has rigid beliefs and you have to agree with them. Righteous means having a right relationship with God. It means being open to God’s guidance at all times. As a righteous man, Joseph makes the painful decision to divorce Mary quietly and save her reputation.

Unlike King Ahaz, Joseph is open to God’s leading even in his sleep. In his dream, an angel of the Lord tells him the truth about Mary’s pregnancy. God is bringing a new life into the world. God is coming into the world to bring new life to everyone just as Isaiah had said.

When Joseph wakes from his dream, he does something entirely different from what he had planned and dreaded to do. He marries Mary. And when the baby is born, Joseph follows the angel’s directions and names him Jesus.

Joseph is one of the shining examples in the scriptures. He is a person of deep prayer who listens for the voice of God in everything he does. He takes Mary to Bethlehem, the City of David, and protects her all along the way. Later, when King Herod starts killing little boys so no one can seize his throne, Joseph takes Mary and Jesus to Egypt.

Scholars remind us that Jesus was born under the cloud of illegitimacy. His parents were married after he was conceived. And then the holy family became refugees fleeing from a tyrant who was full of hate and fear. All along the way Joseph listens for the guidance of God and follows that guidance. Joseph is a wonderful example of a foster father. Like him, may we listen for the voice of God. May we have the depth of faith that Joseph had.

The light is shining in the darkness. The days have been getting shorter and shorter, and the light shines ever more brightly. The light is shining in the darkness ad the darkness has not overcome that light.

May we make room for Jesus in the inn of our hearts. As Master Eckhardt centuries ago called us to do, may we give birth to Jesus in our lives. As our collect says, “May he find in us a mansion prepared for himself.” Amen.

%d bloggers like this: