Fourth Sunday of Advent

Exalting Christ in community and mission

Fourth Sunday of Advent

So much for peaceful nativity scenes and portrayals of Christmas without conflict.  Matthew doesn’t allow the reader to think just because Jesus was born all will live happily ever after. “That sounds a little dark for the season” you may say, but that is what I love about Scripture – it is so real! We’re going to zoom in on how Herod responds to the Christ child. Herod feels as if his throne is threatened and unfortunately his usual reaction to such feelings is murderous rage. Sound familiar? Yet, thank God Herod is just one of the people we’ll discuss.

Although not much is said about Joseph, what is communicated is a legacy worth emulating. Herod is on a rampage, but God’s marvelous providence is on display in Joseph’s warning he received in a dream. Joseph wastes no time and immediately obeys God’s call to protect his son from destruction; thus this family’s flight to Egypt in the night to wait out the death of Herod. What a detour Joseph has to take, he totally didn’t see this coming. Can you relate? What is God up to in the twists and turns of our lives?

But there is more to this story, it is fulfilling what Scripture prophesied in an earlier period of Israel’s history. In the second sentence of Matthew 3:15, Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 as pointing back to the Exodus and at the same time pointing forward to Christ, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” This passage is so pregnant with meaning! For now, just take away the thought that Jesus is the greater Moses delivering his people from bondage! Today, may we not merely celebrate Christmas, but confess we so desperately need it.

Mr. Daniel Ray, Guest Preacher and COR Member