Message Title: Advent 4: Peace
Main Text: All
Scripture Reading: All
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 7:10-16 Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 Romans 1:1-7 Matthew 1:18-25
Focus: Jesus coming restores life.
Function: To acknowledge the death and decay we carry while ask God to restore us.
SCRIPTURE READING 1: Isaiah 7:10-16 READER: JOSH
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign from the LORD your God. Make it as deep as the grave or as high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I won’t ask; I won’t test the LORD.” Then Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Isn’t it enough for you to be tiresome for people that you are also tiresome before my God? Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel. He will eat butter and honey, and learn to reject evil and choose good. Before the boy learns to reject evil and choose good, the land of the two kings you dread will be abandoned.
SCRIPTURE READING 2: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 READER: BO
Shepherd of Israel, listen! You, the one who leads Joseph as if he were a sheep. You, who are enthroned upon the winged heavenly creatures. Show yourself before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh! Wake up your power! Come to save us! Restore us, God! Make your face shine so that we can be saved! LORD God of heavenly forces, how long will you fume against your people’s prayer? You’ve fed them bread made of tears; you’ve given them tears to drink three times over! You’ve put us at odds with our neighbors; our enemies make fun of us. Restore us, God of heavenly forces! Make your face shine so that we can be saved!..Let your hand be with the one on your right side— with the one whom you secured as your own— then we will not turn away from you! Revive us so that we can call on your name. Restore us, LORD God of heavenly forces! Make your face shine so that we can be saved!
SCRIPTURE READING 3: Romans 1:1-7 READER: BAILEY
From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for God’s good news. God promised this good news about his Son ahead of time through his prophets in the holy scriptures. His Son was descended from David. He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake. You who are called by Jesus Christ are also included among these Gentiles. To those in Rome who are dearly loved by God and called to be God’s people. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
SCRIPTURE READING 4: Matthew 1:18-25 READER: DUSTIN
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled: Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, And they will call him, Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means “God with us.”) When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus.
- AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Have you ever gone caroling? What has caused the age of caroling to die out?
- Traditions that need a resurgence: Wassailing (wah-sul)
- “Here we come A-wassailing” – Christmas song
- To Wassail: The house-visiting wassail is the practice of people going door-to-door, singing and offering a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for gifts; this practice still exists, but has largely been displaced by carolling. (Wiki)
- MARI LWYD (Mary Loyd): The Mari Lwyd is a wassailing folk custom found in South Wales. The tradition entails the use of an eponymous hobby horse which is made from a horse’s skull mounted on a pole and carried by an individual hidden under a sackcloth. (Wiki)
- The men would carry the Mari Lwyd to local houses, where they would request entry through song. The householders would be expected to deny them entry, again through song, and the two sides would continue their responses to one another in this manner. If the householders eventually relented, the team would be permitted entry and given food and drink. (wiki)
- Rap battle but carols and the winner gets treats.
- Doesn’t that sound great?
TRANSITION: some tradtitions die w/ change of culture.
- Isaiah 7:10-16
- Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
- Romans 1:1-7
- Matthew 1:18-25
- Isaiah 7:10-16- Even in our doubt, God provides
- God speaks the King Ahaz through Isaiah and tells Ahaz to ask for a sign.
- Ahaz refuses, it looks pious/reverent but really shows his lack of faith in God to respond.
- God gives a sign anyway
- Pregnant woman will name her child Immanuel/Emmanuel which means God with Us.
- The original Hebrew doesn’t say virgin – like Matthew quotes, it says young woman.
- Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19- Life after the pruning
- Considered a Psalm of help
- References God’s throne (the ark of the covenant)
- A plea to restore life in this death-filled situation
- Romans 1:1-7– Christmas is every day
- Paul introduces himself to the churches in Rome
- Foundation in Christ
- Jews & Gentiles are called to be God’s people
- Live in faithful obedience to Christ
- Matthew 1:18-25
- Joseph – the righteous one breaks the law:
- Spares his pregnant wife from stoning though required by law
- Names Jesus, which basically means he adopts her son & claims Jesus as his own.
- Jesus aka Joshua means God Saves
- I’ve said before that Jesus is Mary’s son, just look at the Magnificat in Luke 1. Jesus takes after Mary. BUT Jesus was Joseph’s boy- he knew what was righteous according to law but also what was righteous according to God’s will. (Pulpit fiction)
- He was the righteous one who doesn’t follow the religious culture but follows the essence of God’s law.
- Joseph – the righteous one breaks the law:
- Isaiah: Merely following the law doesn’t mean you have true faith
- Psalms: Piety can look like admitting you’re wrong & ask for help
- Romans: We’re called to live in faithful obedience
- Matthew: Sometimes breaking the law is the “right” thing to do
- Matthew started his Gospel with the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph and then tells the story of Joseph adopting Jesus into his family. That list of names may seem boring or insignificant but as you thumb through the stories represented by each generation, you learn quickly that the holy family was a blended family– not a hallmark card. A family full of generational trauma/struggles.
- BACK TO INTRO: some holiday traditions die out, if anyone wants to try out Mari Lwyd, let me know and we can start a rap battle group. HOWEVER, God’s hope never dies.
- Emmanuel means God with us & Jesus means God saves us.
- Emmanuel comes whether we’re on the naughty or nice list.
- Emmanuel doesn’t give us coal for bad behavior.
- Emmanuel looks at the heart and restores us.
CONCLUSION: You belong in this family. This birth is for you. Emmanuel came for you. Jesus saves you.