2022 Sun Dec 18

Sermon, Advent 4, Dec. 18, 2022 -“God with ALL of us for the good of all of us”

Sermon, Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A 2022
Isaiah 7:10-16, Matthew 1:18-25

Fear is an awful thing. 

Fear can pounce, overwhelming us unexpectedly.  Fear can also be like a seed, planted in our minds, a seed that takes root and grows, and takes over our minds like one of those kudzu vines down south that grows out of control, covers everything in its  paths, and kills everything under it. 

We, too, must deal with the inevitable fears that come to us in this life, for if we do not, fear will take over and kill us. 

Dealing with fear can be next to impossible, though, for fear, once it takes root,  is so overwhelming. 

So here’s the good news in today’s gospel. 

God is with us, and God wants to help us deal with our fears.   Today’s lessons give us some examples. 

Read the rest of the sermon

Matthew’s Gospel for Advent 4 – Christmas is disruptive

From Trinity Episcopal, NY – Summerlee Staten

“The Dream of St. Joseph” – Anton Raphael Mengs 1773/1774

Matthew 1:18-25

“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, 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. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through 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 awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew considers an annunciation. Unlike the other Gospels, which focus on the announcement of Jesus’s impending birth to Mary, Matthew wonders how the news must have landed for Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father.

Joseph probably had traditional aspirations for his married life. He must have been looking forward to a new chapter with Mary — the children they would raise together and the life they would build in Nazareth. But when he is told that Mary is expecting, Joseph does not get what he is expecting. His carefully laid plans are disrupted by a God who has bigger ideas. His life, like Mary’s, will never be the same — and now he will have to rely on a deeper trust in God.

In his refusal to dismiss Mary, Joseph exhibits stalwart compassion. Because he is a “righteous man,” he is guided by kindness and is willing to relinquish his expectations, and maybe even his dreams of a particular kind of married life, to a deeper vision.

It is Joseph, Matthew says, who “named” Jesus, a name that means salvation. And yet, he surely could not have known the full implications of Jesus’s arrival — not in his own life, nor for the life of the world.

The annunciation to Joseph reminds us that Christmas is disruptive. Jesus’s arrival in the world and in our lives destabilizes our plans for a perfectly planned life and asks us to accept the interruption of God into time — into the messiness of human life.

Sunday Links, 4th Advent, Dec. 18, 2022

Photo from service Dec. 11

Coming up!

Dec. 18, 11:00am – Advent 4

Dec. 18, Deadline for General Endowment Fund donations

  • Holy Eucharist, Sun. Dec. 18  YouTube link Dec. 18
  • Lectionary for Dec. 18, 2022,
    Fourth Sunday of Advent Dec 18
  • Bulletin for Dec. 18, 2022,
  • Sermon for Dec. 18, 2022,
  • Morning Meditation , Mon, Dec. 19, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Dec. 21, 10am-12pm. Bible Study cancelled during Christmas week
  • Dec. 21, Village Harvest 3:00-5 PM.
  • Holy Eucharist, Sun. Dec. 24, 4:00pm  YouTube link Dec. 24 Christmas Eve
  • Holy Eucharist, Sun. Dec. 25, 11:00am  YouTube link Dec. 25 Christmas
  • December, 2022 Newsletter
  • All articles for Dec. 18, 2022
  • All articles for Dec. 25, 2022

  • Advent IV – Love

    Love is a crucial part of the Advent story. Because of Joseph’s love for Mary, he didn’t stone her when he found out she was pregnant with what he thought was a child out of wedlock with another man (Matthew 1:18-19). Mary has a natural motherly love for Jesus, and ultimately, we see God’s love for everyone by sending his son for us (John 3:16).

    Jesus focused on preaching love throughout his ministry. Two of his greatest commands involve love: Love God, love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

    Love is the greatest of all the virtues on the Advent wreath and encompasses Jesus’ entire purpose for being on earth (1 Corinthians 13:13).

    Advent IV

    The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not yet Christ. – Thomas Merton

    Explore Advent, Part 4 – Over the Sundays in Advent there will be a presentation each week focusing on that week’s scriptures, art and commentary and how they demonstrate the themes of advent. Let’s continue with Advent 4.

    From the Presiding Bishop-
    Advent Messages 2012-2021

    Feast of the Annunciation –  9 months before we celebrate the nativity there is the related Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 which is described here .


    Art of the Annunciation – The Annunication has been depicted in art for a thousand years. Here is a study of the symbols of the Annunciation.


    Blessed Like Mary- David Lose invites us to understand that we are Blessed Like Mary .

    National Geographic explores“How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman”

    A Digital Nativity.


    What if current social media like Facebook, Gmail, etc had been available at the birth of Christ ? Watch the Digital Nativity

    Arts and Faith- Advent 4, relating art and scripture

    From Art and Faith

    Henry Ossawa Tanner, “The Visitation,” 1909–1910

    Henry Ossawa Tanner’s realist depiction of the Visitation invites us around Elizabeth’s table at her house, at the moment when Mary arrives and greets her. The setting is spare, except for the table, which is covered in a white cloth and has bread, wine, and an ample bowl of fruit awaiting consumption.

    Mary is just entering the house. Her face is kind and joyful, her bodily presence already humming the Magnificat before she utters the words that will come to sing her praise to the Lord. She is a familiar Mary, a relative to us all, and her warm presence recalls the homecomings and joyful arrivals of loved ones that we experience, especially around the holidays.

    Elizabeth’s expression welcoming Mary is complex. In light of Tanner’s realist style, we would expect her rising from the table, moving toward Mary in anticipation of a warm embrace—and that is sure to come. But Tanner catches Elizabeth here in a moment of awe instead. If Mary’s body sings the Magnificat, Elizabeth embodies her words of awe and wonder: “How does this happen that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Her upheld hands are in a position of prayer honoring the presence of God in their midst, in her home, around her table. Elizabeth’s expression is one of serene reverence, a total response to the divine presence she senses in the core of her being, confirmed by the stirring of the child in her womb. “Blessed are you, Mary”—this Elizabeth knows, utters, and prays.

    The meeting between Mary and Elizabeth teaches us about the holy. Tanner shows us that we encounter the holy in the everyday moments of our lives—an arrival, a homecoming, a table set for a meal. But Elizabeth’s expression reminds us that while we find holiness in this world, it is not of this world, that finding holiness is a glimpse of God’s magnificent otherness that beckons us to draw close, but also fills us with wonder and awe. May we find and welcome holiness in these last days of Advent as we await the light of Christ.

    Arts and Faith, Advent 4, Year A —

    In these last days of Advent, daylight is short, the weather is cold, and we are weary of the stress and hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays. In The Dream of Saint Joseph by Anton Raphael Mengs (1773), we meet the sleeping Joseph, who dozes off at his workbench. He is worn out, like we might be these days. His sleep is heavy with the burden of heartbreak and hard decisions, his dreams haunted by the fading hope of a life and family that might not be. His cloak and dark garments weigh on his shoulders as if to symbolize his burden.

    Into his dark and heavy sleep enters the light of an angel. The angel illuminates the scene with a lightness to her whole being—an image to balance Joseph’s burden. She is light, she is hope, she is assurance, she is direction, and she is purpose. Her finger points boldly into the darkest corner of the scene as if to say: This, your deepest and darkest fear and worry, is where the Good News of Jesus Christ will meet you. Do not be afraid.

    For Joseph, his greatest burden will become his greatest blessing. His dream is a consolation to us all in these darkest days of the year, whether we experience the darkness externally or internally. The light of Christ will shine to dispel the darkness—where in your life do you yearn for it most?

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