Advent Wreath Meditations - 2013 (Garland): Fourth Sunday of Advent
Fourth Sunday of Advent: December 22, 2013
Matthew 1:18-25, Psalm 80:19 (NRSV)
"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."
"Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself. Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name. Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved."
Christmas can be a disrupting time. More often than not we come up against the unexpected and have to make adjustments. Consider Matthew’s account of Mary and Joseph:
. . .Mary, found to be with child from the Holy Spirit
. . . Joseph, disgraced and ready to dismiss his betrothed
. . . An Angel of the Lord, with other plans
. . . Immanuel! God coming among them!
How do we prepare for the unexpected and make necessary adjustments?
. . . by trusting the power of the Holy Spirit?
. . . by thinking outside the boxes of our plans?
. . . by making room for Immanuel?
. . . by living in gratitude for the salvation of the Lord?
If we trust the power of the Holy Spirit and prepare ourselves for Immanuel, we will experience again the redeeming birth of Jesus the Christ.
Candle Lighting Liturgy
The Holy Spirit has come to fulfill what has been promised by the Prophets.
A child will be born whose name will be Jesus.
(Here relight the first three candles.)
He will save the people from their sins.
Amen! God will be with us!.
God will restore you and reveal your salvation.
We see the light of God dawning over the land.
We light a fourth candle in anticipation of Immanuel.
(Here light the fourth candle.)
We will prepare room for the Light of lights, even Jesus Christ our Lord.
"Emmanuel, Emmanuel," The United Methodist Hymnal, 204
"Lord, I lift Your Name on High," The Faith We Sing, 2088
"Lord, Be to Us a Source of Joy" by F. Richard Garland