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4th Sunday of Advent (cycle a)


"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."  - Mt 1:23

Responsive Reading for 4th Advent

L: We light this candle as a symbol of the Prince of Peace
P: May the visitation of your Holy Spirit, O God, make us ready for the coming of Jesus, our hope and joy.
L: May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts and minds
P: We eagerly await the arrival of the King of Glory.

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Children's Messages:


Sermon Excerpt:

Have a Little Faith, Joseph!
Matthew 1:18-25
by Rev. Frank Schaefer

You know, humanly speaking things weren’t really going well leading up to that first Christmas Eve. In fact, the entire Christmas story is one of human dilemma. The harsh rule of the Romans. The census which forced Mary and Joseph to go on a long arduous journey. It is a story of human oppression, poverty and hardship. But it is also a story of simple faith that yields big results. God never really asks the characters in the bible to muster up big faith--he always asks for a little faith a little trust, and he takes this little deposit and turns it into huge profits.

Circumstances couldn’t have been much worse for Mary and Joseph, not being able to find medical care for the delivery of Mary’s baby, nor could they find shelter, nor were they married when Jesus was born. There was not much positive to be expected for Mary, Joseph, nor the baby. No future, no career, nothing. And all of this was happening amidst a great political crisis in which an unwanted census was forced upon the Jewish people by the then super-power Rome.

Let’s talk about Joseph for a while. In today’s passage we read that he finds out about Mary's condition and naturally, since he is not the father of the unborn child, he assumes the worst. Joseph--like any other young man--had dreams and goals in life. His parents had arranged his marriage, still, he dreamed of the life he would build with his wife. He would work hard to support his family. They would raise children - a blessing upon their home. They would go to temple and they would have a good life, a holy life. They would follow the Torah. He would bring honor upon his family’s name, the house of David.

And his fiancée was Mary, a wonderful young woman. She would make a good wife. His heart was full of love, joy and anticipation. So he rose early each day, worked hard at his craft, determined to live into his future. Then the bottom fell out. Mary was pregnant. What on earth? How...? ... Well, that was that. He couldn't marry her now. How could she get involved with someone else? She said she loved him.

Can you imagine the pain, the feeling of betrayal, the anger? Perhaps, he fell into a depression. His dreams of a happy life with wife and family dashed. Still, he planned to dismiss her quietly. To spare her public disgrace. After all, he really loved her, no matter how much she hurt him...DPS Subscribers: click here to access all resources

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