Fourth Sunday in Advent: A Call to Community

Reflection on the Birth of Christ

Fourth Sunday in Advent: A Call to Community
Teenager working on a Vacation Bible School craft in Central Asia

Matthew 1:18-25

As in some communities today, the Jews in the days of Joseph and Mary had two stages that a couple had to go through in what could be called the Marital Process. There was the engagement stage and then the wedding. Joseph and Mary were in the first stage. It was a serious commitment, but the community in which they lived did not expect them to have a baby until after the second stage.

Imagine Joseph’s dilemma when he found out that the woman to whom he was betrothed was already pregnant and he had not yet consummated their relationship. It was culturally scandalous and considered a disgrace. Joseph must have been dealing with cultural dishonor. He, however, did not want to expose Mary to a terrible punishment, which was the order of the day. He therefore decided to divorce her quietly. However, the divine intervention of God through the angel in a dream communicated the true situation to Joseph that Mary conceived through the power of God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit was at work here. It worked in a mysterious and miraculous way. Joseph chose to trust God and not the cultural pressure that he faced. Joseph was further instructed to call the newborn child Jesus because he will save people from their sins. This was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy that a virgin will bear a son and he will be called Emmanuel meaning, “God with us.”

Jesus is still our Emmanuel. God lives and works with us today. We are his ambassadors. Through the community of believers, people can meet God, hear the message of love, hope, salvation, forgiveness and reconciliation. Let us as Christians renew our commitment to bring hope to the hopeless and be the Emmanuel for people.

Prayer: Our gracious father, we pray that we will not be distracted by cultural pressures but we will come to know the mysterious and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, which is alive in our lives and in our communities. Amen.

Elmira Sellu is United Methodist Women Regional Missionary for East and West Africa.

Posted or updated: 12/18/2016 11:00:00 PM

Advent Candles

Give Thanks. Give Now.

Mission Focus:

North America Region: World Student Christian Organization: Supporting the regional office’s communications program.

Testimony for Dec. 18-24:

I watch as many are blessed by their memories of times spent in our center as they visit two metal doors saved from the demolition of our former location more than three decades ago, and upon which the names of hundreds are etched and carved. -John G. Hatcher, Jr., executive director, Wesley Community Service Center, Portsmouth, Virginia.
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