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Series: Advent with the Gospels
Sermon: Preparing with Matthew
Text: Mark 1:18-24
Rev. Laura Brewster
Introduction. Explicitly and implicitly, our culture is telling us: this is the most wonderful time of the year, and you should be having a most wonderful time. Maybe this is a wonderful time for you, but maybe it’s not. The truth is that some of us have heavy hearts, not happy hearts this time of year. Such feelings may be more reflective of what we find in the original Christmas story than we realize.
Scripture. Read 1:18–24.
Joseph Was Righteous but Suffered Anyway. Joseph’s hometown might could have been Bethlehem in Judea or Nazareth in Galilee. He was likely a carpenter, but could have been a different type of artisan. He may have been as young as 13, but he may have been much older. We do know one thing for sure – he was a righteous man. Although he was righteous, he still faced a big trial; Mary became pregnant with a child that was not his. Joseph’s story reminds us that we can follow God and God’s ways and still face suffering.
Joseph Is Instructed Not to Fear. After learning that his fiancé is pregnant, Joseph decides to divorce her, pick up the pieces of his life, and make a fresh start. However, an angel sent by God shows up and instructs Joseph to fear not, marry Mary, and raise Jesus as his own child. Note that the angel does not offer shallow clichés such as “Don’t worry, be happy.” The angel says, “do not fear.” After Joseph and Mary get married and begin to build a life, they are tossed another curve ball. An angel instructs Joseph to take his family and flee to Egypt.” They must leave their home and nation and become refugees. Read Matthew 2:13-15a
We Can Have Peace in the Midst of Tumult Because God Is with Us. Again, Joseph’s story reminds us that we can be people of faith and still face trials and tribulations. However, Joseph’s story also reminds us that we need not live in fear when those challenges come. We can have peace in the midst of tumult for the simple reason that God is with us. God was literally abiding with Joseph and Mary when he was born in Bethlehem. And God was literally traveling with Joseph and Mary, when they made their trek to Egypt. Today, God is still with us. He is not with us in human form, but his Spirit is with us and will never leave us.
God Is Also at Work Redeeming Our Difficult Moments. Along with abiding with us, the Lord is working in our lives. God is at work seeking to redeem even the most challenging and painful moments in our lives. Indeed, we may find ourselves greatly valuing some of the growth or blessings God brings into our lives as he helps us recover from difficult times.
Conclusion. In short, when we read the birth narrative in Matthew, we find a wonderful story about the birth of Christ. This story reminds us that God willingly chose to come dwell with us, and it reminds us that those who noticed responded by worshiping the newborn king. But it’s even more than that. It’s also a story that can encourage us in tough times. It reminds us that no matter what we are going through, God is with us, and God is at work. And that is a pretty wonderful message this time of year… and always.