We're so glad that you decided to join us this morning!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns with each other. Take some time to consider what joys and concerns you have this week. You can share anything you would like in the comments, and everyone will be able to pray for this as well.
As these past few weeks have been rough, I thought I might share a thought for the day with you all. I still get emails from my church in Flagstaff, and the letter from the pastor was quite appropriate for this time. Just click here to read the message.
When you are ready, continue with the prayer below, from this resource.
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day,
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!'
Today's lesson is on Matthew 1:18-25.
Question: "What does Immanuel mean?"
Answer: Immanuel is a masculine Hebrew name meaning “God with us” or “God is with us.” The name Immanuel appears in the Bible three times, twice in the Old Testament book of Isaiah (7:14 and 8:8), and once in the Gospel of Matthew (1:23).
Today’s lesson focuses on the unlikely hero Joseph of Nazareth. First, the village of Nazareth was so insignificant that it was not on most maps. Joseph’s social standing was equally insignificant. Jesus wars referred to as the "carpenter’s son” not the son of Joseph. Despite his humble origins, Joseph stood out among his peers in at least two respects. First because he was a descendant of King David which made him a member of Israel’s royal line, which is why he took Mary to Bethlehem to register for the Roman was census.
We can only imaging how Joseph felt when he discovered that Mary was pregnant. He is definitely within the law to quietly divorce her. His faithfulness to the law was matched by his desire to be merciful to Mary. When he comes to understand that her pregnancy was supernatural in origin, he chooses to partner with God in caring for both Mary and the baby. His decision comes with a lifelong commitment and impact on his life. Joseph willingly turns his life over to God.
In verse 23 Matthew is quoting Isaiah 7:14. Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
The story of Joseph and his dreams is a story we are so very familiar with. The title of today’s lesson; “Called to Be Immanuel” is a clue for looking at the scripture in a different light. Joseph stepped out in faith, never questioned or hesitated to act according to God’s wisher.
Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth is a classic "Yes, you” story. Both Mary and Joseph were no doubt surprised when God called them to play a key roles in the story of salvation.
Father, help us remember what it means that Jesus was born “God with us,” Let your presence give us the confidence to be obedient whenever you call, In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Today's benediction is from the New Revised Standard Version.
Next week's lesson is on Matthew 2:1-2, 7-15.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.