Where Hope Grows

Matthew 1:18-25                                                                          12.22.19

There is a division among us.  We have it at our house.  You may have it at yours.  Some people love to get surprised by a Christmas gift, trusting that the giver will know what will bring joy to the recipient.  Others prefer to give gift suggestions to the giver, ensuring that the gift will be exactly what is needed or desired.  I want to take a little poll this morning to see just how divided we are as a large group.  I am going to ask you to raise your hand if you prefer being surprised by a gift or if you prefer receiving an item that you have requested.    (raise hands)

God is the kind of giver who likes to surprise!  God did not select Mary because of anything she had done.  There was no contest to see who could bear the Son of God that she won because of her charisma or good looks or caring heart.  God selected Mary as a vehicle to surprise the world with an intervention of hope.  To say the least, Mary was surprised.  Her family was surprised.  Her neighbors were surprised.

God did select Joseph because he was of the family of David.  Our gospel writer spends the first 17 verses of this gospel of Jesus Christ documenting how Joseph is a member of the historic families of Israel, name after name after name, all the way back to Father Abraham.  Then we find out that Joseph is going to miraculously be the father of this child even without human conception. Continue reading “Where Hope Grows”

Life-Giving Sustenance

Advent 3:  Isaiah 35:1-10; Matthew 11;2-11
God is a change agent, transforming what was once barren into a blossoming, watered garden. When the people of Israel were living in exile, away from all that was familiar, they longed for a change, a return home, clinging to hope for renewal of life as they once knew it.
God is a change agent, transforming what was once burning sand into a pool of refreshing water. When John the Baptist was in prison, he wanted to know—is there any hope left? Am I here for good reason?
God is a change agent, transforming the physically disabled into ones who see and hear and dance and shout. We live in a world today where our news swirls with impeachment, cyber attacks, mass shootings and drug fueled violence.
The people of Judah and Israel, John and the followers of Jesus, you and I — facing desert conditions all around. Rocky and barren, waterless and forbidding, disabling and limiting, hope crushing.
But God is a change agent. Continue reading “Life-Giving Sustenance”