Posted by: Pauline | December 11, 2016

Scriptures for Sunday December 18

Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus is probably not quite as well-known as Luke’s, perhaps because the shorter story with fewer details and fewer characters offers less scope for children’s Christmas pageants. But in these few verses, Matthew communicates clearly two essential principles of our faith, incarnation and redemption.

The son to be born to Mary will be called Immanuel because he will be God with us. That was not his personal name, but it describes the experience his followers came to recognize as the presence of God among them through Jesus. He continues to be Immanuel to us today though we do not see or experience him in the same way as during his physical life on earth.

And he was called Jesus because he saves people from their sins. This is the same name in Hebrew as Joshua, who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. By achieving our salvation, Jesus leads his people into eternal life with God.

Psalm 80:1-7, 18-19

Psalm 80 is classified as a psalm of lament, which may seem to some people at odds with the mood of joyful expectation for the holiday we will be celebrating within a week. Many churches will be presenting children’s Christmas pageants today, and even missed or messed up lines will be greeted not with lament but with appreciation for everyone’s efforts.

But Christmas is meaningful precisely because we are in such need of God to save us. Our world is messed up and our lives are messed up, and if we sometimes don’t cry out to God with the kind of desperate appeal we see in the psalms of lament, it is because we know He has already answered, in the person of Jesus Christ.

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