Sermon - December 22, 2019 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Gerard van Honthorst_-_Adoration of the Shepherds_(1622)

Sermon – December 22, 2019

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Year A
December 22, 2019

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80: 1-7,16-18

Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

Three Angel’s…. A Dream, Obedience and the Birth of a King

“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.”

On this Forth Sunday in Advent, we are just two days from Christmas Eve, the night a Child is born, but not any Child, “The Messiah.”

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save the people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

Before the story begins let’s talk about Angels the “Messengers” from God. 

The first angel visited Mary of Nazareth.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph.

A descendant of David, the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28) 

Mary goes on to tell; what the angel of the Lord, told her, she was going to conceive a child, and this child was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. In two thousand years, no other story of a birth, has ever captivated us like this one. This is no ordinary child, this was the Son of God, sent from Heaven to save us from our sins.

The second angel was a visit to Joseph, the soon to be the Father to Jesus. 

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “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.” (Matthew 11: 20)

The third angel I would like to talk about, who becomes part of the story later on, is the Angel that visited the Shepherds.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; he is Christ the Lord. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

The Holy Family:

Mary had been engaged, promised to Joseph and now, she has to tell him that she is carrying a child, a child conceived from the Holy Spirit. Joseph is taken back a little by the news, and what man wouldn’t be. All of a sudden, she is pregnant! Now what? Like anyone he would have been angry and upset.

Joseph is a carpenter from Nazareth, he is considered to be an honorable man with an honorable trade. The gospel says, Joseph being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. “God” has other plans for Joseph, “The Son of David.” 

Just when Joseph thought he had the answers, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “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.” 

Why did God choose Joseph? Was it because he was a descendent of David? Was it because God knew he would be obedient to him? 

Here is a young man, he is betrothed to a very young women…she is promised to him.  The decisions they both had to make at such a young age, is beyond what we could ever imagine doing.  I feel Joseph realizes; he doesn’t have to worry about Mary. “No blame there! God choose Mary, just like God chose him, to be a father to Jesus, to raise him as his own, and to be the savior to all of us. 

Joseph and Mary both know that God will help and direct them. You see, they were both young, Mary a child herself, Joseph a young man, but God chose them! they were touched by an Angel, a messenger from God 

In the Old Testament, the book of Daniel, he speaks to the angel Gabriel and referred to him as the man. In Luke’s Gospel, Mary speaks to the angel Gabriel and he appeared as a stranger, a stranger with no wings. In today’s Gospel, Matthew, the angel speaks to Joseph in a dream.

I don’t know about you, but I pretty much forget my dreams and if I happen to remember a dream after waking up, I do not take it seriously…it’s a dream! Joseph took it seriously his dream! And he listens to the angel more than just once.

In Matthew’s Gospel, the angel speaks to Joseph four times in his dreams. The angel not only tells him about Mary and the Holy Spirit, the child that was to come, but also in the second dream, Joseph is to take his family to Egypt to save the child, thirdly, the Holy Family are in Egypt and Joseph is told to go to Nazareth, and the forth time, Joseph is warned not to return to Judea.  

“They shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

Why do I look forward to Christmas, the birthday of our Lord and Savior? Because, no matter how dark things are, and there is darkness, either in someone’s life or the world. Every time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are reminded that He always brings hope, Joy, Love and our promise of salvation. 

God’s greatest gift to us is Jesus, He was not born in a palace, but in a manger. If we connect the thread, we find the Holy Spirit, we hear from the angel, “Don’t be afraid”. 

God intervenes in our lives, He cares, He came and manifested himself by reviling himself through the birth of Jesus, as scripture tells us! God is with us!

Rev. Lola Culbreath