Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25
Key verses: (21-23)
21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23″Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall name him Emmanuel,”which means, “God is with us.”
Reflection: Tucked away in a stairwell of our sanctuary balcony is a small trio of stained glass windows. They depict the telling of the incarnation to three people. On the left, the angel Gabriel gives Mary the startling message that she will bear the son of God. On the right side, Mary visits her relative Elizabeth, and shares her good news. In the middle, we see an angel speaking to a dreaming Joseph, as told in these verses. Joseph has his arms crossed, and looks doubtful, even in his sleep. A baby, by God’s Holy Spirit, who will save his people from their sins? It’s a crazy message! The whole thing sounds made up, and too amazing to be true.
And yet, we gather today in multiple services here, to proclaim just that. We are joined by believers across our town, across our country, across oceans and continents and time zones: children of God, lighting candles in the darkness, and giving thanks for Jesus – Emmanuel – God with us.
This Christmas Eve, may the startling, unbelievable message of God’s grace born in Jesus, be made real for you. May it help you hold your own candle a little higher. May you break out into a carol of joy because of it. May it spill forth into good news that you can share with another. And may you wake tomorrow, as Joseph did, trusting that God is with us.
Prayer: O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us; abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].