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lighting the way

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Matthew 1:18 - 25

Choose The Joy

It’s a story you have probably heard so many times it’s no longer amazing. It’s so baked into this time of year that maybe you don’t even listen to it anymore.

So take a moment and read today’s Gospel slowly. Think about each word as you’re reading it.

How is it that a young virgin was found pregnant? That wasn’t a miracle. Everyone knew how that happened.

And maybe it’s not a miracle that a man known to be righteous obeyed a sign from God.

You can find the miraculous, or you can discount it. Someone once said that for the one who believes, no proof is needed; for the one who does not believe, no proof is possible. 

Read Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus with the eyes of one who believes and with the new wonder of a child. Let it wash over you as the gift it is meant to be. Choose the joy it offers you, and be not afraid.

Jesus, as close as we are to Christmas, it can just feel like one more day of things to do. Let me choose the joy you offer and approach Christmas with that gift.

When the angel comes to Joseph in today’s Gospel, he tells him, “Do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, into your home.” 

Joseph probably wouldn’t have called it fear. He might not have thought it was anything other than the right thing to do.

Mary, after all, was pregnant. And Joseph knew he wasn’t the father. So divorcing her quietly was a charitable action.

God, however, asks more of him. God asks him to overcome what seems like the right thing to do the godly thing. What would have happened if Joseph had said no? How would our Advent journey be different?

In his humility and openness to God, though, Joseph obeys. He may not completely understand — and who can? — but he obeys. He overcomes his fear and obeys God’s request.

What are you afraid of? What’s holding you back? How can you turn it over to God?

As we enter the last full week before Christmas, we can lean into God, knowing that the joy he offers us is a choice we’ve made, a gift we have only to accept.

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Daily Prayer

Oh God, give me the courage to obey you, even in the face of my fear and uncertainty. Use your joy to guide me closer to you.

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Advent Wreath

Light the fourth candle of the wreath after saying the special prayer below.

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Prayers for Lighting the Advent Wreath Candles

O Lord, stir up Thy power, we pray Thee, and come; and with great might help us, that with the help of Thy Grace, Thy merciful forgiveness may hasten what our sins impede. Through Christ our Lord.