Advent 4 Year A Matthew 1:18-25 December 22, 2019
God has been trying to get our attention for a long time. He has tried sending us prophets, poets, priests, and rabbis with His message. God loves us and tried so hard for such a long time to get our attention. God yelled and whispered, stayed silent and shouted, but people were deaf to God's call.
God appeared in dreams and burning bushes, spoke through pillars of fire and sent manna from heaven, provided water in the wilderness and led us to a land flowing with mild and honey, and still, we the people wouldn't listen. It was a language barrier, God thought. "They can't hear me."
So, God spoke louder and bolder.
God tried everything He could think of to get us to love each other. But God's words fell on deaf ears. Humanity thought they were smart enough to plan their own lives, so they ignored all the messengers and the message.
The people were divided one from another and surrounded themselves with others who looked and thought and agreed with them. And it broke God's heart. God said, "They were made for love and they try to live without it."
So, God hatched a daring plan. Instead of poets and prophets, instead of manna and messengers, instead of fires and floods, God would become flesh and blood. The creator of the universe, the One who called the cosmos into being with a word, the great "I Am" would take human flesh. But how would He do that?
A baby. everyone loves babies. Babies inspire hope for the future. But God as a baby had to be special. Not the baby of a powerful queen or some politician, but a helpless baby, born in a backwater town. God was going to become a nobody. "I will be Immanuel--'God with us'--to show them the face of love."
But what if things go wrong? What if something happened to God as a helpless little child? That was the chance that Love was going to have to take.
God was ready, but it took some time and a bit of searching before He found a female who would cooperate with His plan. He found a girl named Mary and she said yes. He may have asked others who said no or maybe just shooed the messenger away, but Mary, Mary said, yes.
But the messenger had forgotten about Joseph. It is a Scandalous idea!
Joseph thought, how could Mary be pregnant? We just got engaged! We haven't even gone to see the rabbi or even asked for our parents' blessing. Imagine what her mother will think. Her heart will be broken.
Imagine what my mother will say. They tried to warn me that Mary was a little headstrong, but I never expected this. How could she? Didn't she think I would find out? She's ruined her life. My reputation is ruined, but I don't want to see her stoned to death. No one should ever have to go through that. Maybe it would be best if I just quietly let her go. I'll sleep on the idea.
"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
"'Ok, so the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and the shall name him Emmanuel', which means, 'God is with us.'" But why her? Why me? why here? We are poor and simple folks, we are powerless. Why would God choose to be born here? It just doesn't make sense. I don't want to be responsible for raising God. What happens if we mess this up? How do you say not to Almighty God?
The time had come for the baby to be born. At last, God could speak our language. In Jesus, Emmanuel. God is with us.
The thing is, we, as the people of God and followers of Jesus, forget that all our lives, our loves, and our longings are caught up in a God who became flesh and blood just to be with us.
Our God has worked so hard to be with us, to be in a loving relationship with us. "God is with us" it is both a pledge and a promise that no matter where we find ourselves in this life, even in death and beyond death, that we are never, ever, ever alone!
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be grounded in the truth that God's love is more than enough to cast out our fear. We know that God comes to us again and again seeking, searching, and pouring out His love on us.
The birth of Jesus is not an event in time that took place 2000 years ago. The birth of Jesus Messiah happens again and again and again each day in our world if we stop long enough to recognize God is with us. We receive Him into our hearts.