Isaiah 7:10-16. God promises a sign for King Ahaz, who is looking to Assyria for assistance with the threats of neighbouring Damascus and Samaria, that a virgin will give birth and call the child “Immanuel”, and that the enemy nations will be desolate before the child knows good from evil.
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19. A prayer for God to forgive and restore God’s people, and to send and empower the One God raises up to keep God’s people from turning away from God.
Romans 1:1-7. Paul celebrates Christ who is of both human and divine descent and who has called the apostles – and all of God’s people – to belong to Jesus and to spread the Good News.
Matthew 1:18-25. Mary discovers herself to be pregnant while betrothed to Joseph, but Joseph is informed in a dream that the Child is of God, and must be named Jesus.These events are proclaimed to be the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin who conceives and gives birth to Immanuel.
Rev Tania writes:
The final Advent week before the Christmas celebration turns our attention to the significance of the name given in Isaiah’s prophecy, and ascribed to Jesus by Matthew – Immanuel. The idea that God is with us may seem commonplace to us now, since we’ve heard it so many times, but for the ancient hearers of the Gospel, it must have sounded radical, or even scandalous. Yet, it reflects the intense longing within God for intimate union with humanity. It is a testament to God’s unfailing, unconditional love, and is reinforced by all the readings this week.
Isaiah speaks a prophecy which offers a sign of God’s care and willingness to protect God’s people to a king who has largely ignored God’s law. The Psalm offers a prayer in faith and expectation that God cares for God’s people and will send one who will lead and deliver them. Paul celebrates the Good News of God’s kindness and the belonging we find in God through Christ.
And, in a rather moving narrative, Matthew describes Joseph’s love and care for Mary, which becomes something of a metaphor (whether intentional or not on Matthew’s part) for the love of the God who is about to step physically into human affairs and experience.
May our worship overflow with proclamation and experience of God’s ever-present love this week. Prayerfully, Rev Tania
Blessings as we wait, watch, pray and long for God to come among us! – Rev Tania