Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Matthew 1:18-25 | Advent Love: God Is Faithful to Us Through It All + December 16, 2017

Peace | "Jose y Maria" and the Courage to Believe He Knows Who We Are and What Will Give Us Peace

Consider what the announcement of the angel means to Joseph. Mary is pregnant, and Joseph knows he is not the father. He decides to break off the engagement, but the angel shows up and says, “Marry her. She is pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” But if Joseph marries her, everybody in that shame-and-honor society will know that this child was not born nine or ten months after they got married; they will know she was already pregnant. That would mean either Joseph and Mary had sex before marriage or she was unfaithful to him, and as a result, they are going to be shamed, socially excluded, and rejected. They are going to be second-class citizens forever. So the message is “If Jesus Christ comes into your life, you are going to kiss your stellar reputation good-bye.” All of Joseph’s friends are going to say, “Either you got her pregnant before you were married, or she was unfaithful to you.” The truth isn’t something his friends will understand and, therefore, they will always think he’s either crazy or gullible ("She is pregnant through the Holy Spirit?"). Today, in non-Western countries a profession of Christian faith can be dangerous to your life. And in Western countries there is, increasingly, ridicule and contempt for those holding to historical Christian beliefs. All this takes courage to face. I know this is intimidating, but it’s also an adventure. He made us. He knows who we are, what we were made for, what will give us peace. That means we cannot know who we are until He comes into our lives and then, through obedience to Him, learn our true identity and purpose.

Timothy Keller, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ

He. Will. Save. God. With. Us. A carpenter dreams about the birth of God. Mary has her angelic visitation to hear of the Incarnation. Joseph gets the stinging betrayal of her swelling abdomen. He gets to lie awake at night wondering what a guy like him is doing in a mess like this. No unassuming angel shows up for him until he's already made up his mind and heart to mercifully let her go. There is always that – we are not spared of all trials, but we are always spared of the trials that have no gifts. God always gives God. Hush away the hurry, the worry. We can always have as much God as we want. That's what Joseph's angel says – that what is stretching Mary's skin is God. (What is always stretching us is God.)

+ Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas 

Advent Scriptures | Matthew 1:18-25; Isaiah 54:10

Lord's Prayer | Praying for Jesus' Kingdom Impact in Us and in Worcester

By Charles Wesley
1744 A.D.

Come Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free.
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art.
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Joy to those who long to see Thee,
Day-spring from on high appear.
Come Thou promised Rod of Jesse,
Of Thy birth we long to hear.
O'er the hills the angels singing,
News glad tidings of a birth.
Go to Him your praises bringing,
Christ the Lord has come to earth.

Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end.
By His life He brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall.
This the everlasting wonder:
Christ was born Lord of all.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone.
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
By Austin Stone Worship
2012 A.D.

day, a day of promise, 
A hope to end our woe, 
day that tells of triumph
Against our vanquished foe!

In flesh His entrance humble,
The swaddling clothes His robe,
The meek displayed in power,
The Prince of Peace now known!

Let angels shout the triumph

As mortals raise their voice,
"Behold the Son of heav'n and earth,
The King of Kings is born!"

day, a day of glory,
When Jesus calls us home.
Our glorious King eternal
Returning for His own!

Gloria, gloria, gloria,
Our King has come!

O ComeO Come Emmanuel
By anonymous monks
Translated by John Mason Neale
800s A.D., 1800s A.D.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny,
From depths of Hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In One the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

The Cradle and the Cross
By Austin Stone Worship
2013 A.D.

Oh the beauty and the loss
Of the cradle and the cross,
The Son of God so humbly
Sent for us.
Into darkness came the light,
Faith of fathers became sight

When the Christ arrived
To save the fold of God.

Humanity embraced,
He left a perfect place,
The prize of God in
Lowly manger lay.
Angels shout with joyous song,
Saints and sinners sing along

In the highest place, Glory, Gloria!

Emmanuel, God with us!
The Lamb of God slain for us!
Finally, our hope’s secured
By the beauty of
The cradle and the cross.

The Creator of the stars,
Then in flesh received the scars

On the cross He paid
The debt of sinners earned.
And even death could not Him hold,
Peace on earth we see unfold
As the risen Christ
Ascends in victory!

Stars and angels
Sing around You,

Hearts unfold like
Flowers before You,
Joyful, joyful
We adore You,

What Child Is This
By William Chatterton Dix
1865 A.D.

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
Thisthis is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and donkeys are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spears shall pierce Him through,
The cross He bore for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The babe, the Son of Mary.

Thisthis is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

By Isaac Watts
1719 A.D.

All of heaven and
All creation sing
The wonders of His love!

Joy to the World ,
The Lord has come!

Let earth
Receive her King;

Let every heart
Prepare Him room,

And Heaven
And nature sing,

And Heaven
And nature sing,

And Heaven, and Heaven,
And nature sing!

No more let sins
And sorrows grow,

Nor thorns
Infest the ground;

He comes to make
His blessings flow

Far as the curse
Is found,

Far as the curse
Is found,

Far as, far as,
The curse is found!

He rules the world
With truth and grace,

And makes
The nations prove
The glories of
His righteousness,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders, wonders,
of His love!

Apostles' Creed 
390 A.D.

I believe in God, 
the Father almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
born of the virgin Mary.

suffered under Pontius Pilate, 

was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended to hell.

The third day He rose again!

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand
of God the Father almighty;
from there He shall come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic* Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins, 

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

*Catholic stands for Jesus' Church
"according to the whole,"
across time, cultures, and nations,
that He established
and continues to build by His
grace, truth, and resurrection power. 


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. + Isaiah 9:2, 6

Next post: Matthew 2:1-11 | Advent Joy: Worship the King Who Comes for All in Cradle, on Cross, and with Crown

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan

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