Expect God’s Presence

Part 4: “Expect the Presence of God”
(Series: What Do You Expect this Christmas?)
Sunday, December 19, 2010 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
Matthew 1:18-25

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid…All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us’.”
When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, he expected disgrace…
He expected that Mary had been unfaithful…
He expected to divorce her quietly and go on with his life…
He did not expect to be visited by the Lord’s messenger in a dream…
He did not expect to become the caregiver for the Son of God.
Let us pray:
Emmanuel, God with us, stand with us this morning.
Help us to understand the words of Scripture and hear the lesson you have for us today.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be truly pleasing to you.
Amen
On this 4th Sunday of Advent we, like Joseph, are challenged to make sense out of the idea that the Virgin Mary could conceive and bear a son through the action of God’s Holy Spirit…
We all know the biology of conception and childbirth…
It’s basic science and this is not the way it works…
Think of it from Joseph’s perspective…
He lives a simple life in a nice little town where everybody knows everybody’s business;
He expects his life to be uncomplicated and his future to be normal and uneventful;
Then he meets Mary and everything changes.
His simple life is suddenly very complicated and the fact that everybody in town knows everybody else’s business makes it really hard to live a normal life…
Suddenly his expectations are turned upside down and, just when he thinks he’s got it all figured out – “I’ll just send her on her way and stay out of this mess.”
An angel of the Lord visits him in the midst of his restless sleep and tells him this incredible story of how Mary conceived and who this baby really is…
The blinding light of this visitation awakens Joseph’s faith in God and his deep faith rearranges his expectations.
That’s what we are being asked to do today…
Dig deep into our faith and accept that God can do whatever God wants to do;
Dismiss whatever doubts have come with our increased scientific knowledge
and technological innovation;
Push back against a culture that tells us there is no God;
Rearrange our expectations so that we can fully experience God’s presence in our lives;
Throughout this Advent season we have been asked to…
Expect the unexpected;
Expect to be challenged;
Expect miracles;
And now – to expect the presence of God…Emmanuel – God with us
Where do you see and feel God’s presence?
In the eyes of a friend who is nearing the end of this life and
preparing to pass into eternal life with God…
In the smile of a newborn baby just beginning this fantastic journey…
In the face of a foster child whose Christmas was made better
because of the gifts you bought…
In the sounds of singing echoing through the halls of Grace Living Center…
In the steps of someone entering our church for the first time and walking into a room filled with the love of God – love that knows no barriers or boundaries;
love that is welcoming and understanding;
love that points people to Jesus Christ.
Expect God’s presence this Christmas and you will receive exactly what you expect.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen!
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