Year C Advent 4 Matthew 1B
The Christmas Promise: God with Us
Matthew 1:18-25

G. K. Chesterton, the noted British poet and theologian, was a brilliant man who could think deep thoughts and express them well. However, he was also extremely absent-minded and over the years he became rather notorious for getting lost. He would just absolutely forget where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to be doing. On one such occasion, he sent a telegram to his wife which carried these words: "Honey, seems I'm lost again. Presently, I am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?" As only a spouse could say it, she telegraphed back a one-word reply "HOME!"

This is precisely what this classic passage in the first chapter of Matthew does for us... it brings us home...

-- Home to the real meaning of Christmas
-- Home to the most magnificent truth in the entire Bible
-- Home to our Lord's greatest promise
-- Home to the reason we celebrate Christmas

Namely this: "GOD IS WITH US!" When we accept Christ into our lives, nothing, not even death, can separate us from God and His love. It is what Christmas is about. God is with us. The great people of faith have always claimed that promise. Just think of it:

-- Moses caught between the Pharaoh and the deep Red Sea in a seemingly hopeless situation believed that God was with him and he went forward and trusted God to open a way and He did!

-- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego went into the fiery furnace into a seemingly hopeless situation and they trusted God to be with them and He was!

-- Little David stood before Goliath. What chance could a small boy with a slingshot have against this giant of a warrior? But David believed that God was with him and it made all the difference!

Now, it's interesting to note that when the writer of Matthew's gospel wanted to capture the meaning of Christmas, the meaning of the Christ event, the meaning of Jesus in a single word, he did a very wise thing. He reached back into the Old Testament, pulled out an old word, dusted it off, and used it to convey the message. The word was Emmanuel. That's what Jesus is about "His name shall be called Emmanuel" which means, "God is with us."

The impact of that Christmas promise is incredible. When you believe that, when you accept that, when you claim that promise it will absolutely change your life. Let me show you what I mean by bringing this closer to home. Let me underscore three ideas relating to this great promise of God's presence. I'm sure you will think of others, but for now please consider these. We can claim the great Christmas promise God with us...

  1. When We Are Frightened.
  2. When We Are Lonely.
  3. When We Are in Sorrow.

Have a Jolly Imperfect Christmas This Year!
Matthew 1:18-25

Some Christmas's stay forever in our hearts and minds because they were so beautiful, so magical, so perfect.

*You got your Red Ryder BB gun or Malibu Barbie.
*The time the Christmas pageant went off without a hitch.
*The year when everyone got to come home.
*A blanket of snow on Christmas Eve draped everything in white and wonder.

But other Christmas's are forever etched in our memories because they were so IMPERFECT.

*The year it flooded and Christmas was spent at the neighbors who lived on higher ground.
*The year no one noticed the oven turned off and the turkey ran with blood-red juice when carved.
*The year it snowed TWO FEET and a family of happy relatives became a snarling, surly captive audience for a full week.

Christmas disasters!

Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes it may be those Christmas's where everything seems to go wrong that we find the most authentic of our Christmas experiences, where we discover the Christ child most firmly in our midst.

The first Christmas would never make it into anyone's family photo album of perfect holiday moments. In Luke's gospel there are a lot of details about everything that went wrong when Jesus was born. Joseph and Mary had to hit the road for Bethlehem. There was no room at the inn. The baby was born in a barn. Some random bunch of smelly shepherds horn in on the new family.

In this week's reading of Matthew's gospel we learn that things were "messed up" way before Jesus was even born... presents Leonard Sweet