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Love Made Possible

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God shows us unimaginable love by sending Jesus into the world. By choosing to be with us in Christ, God gives us reason to trust that we, too, can love in ways we never dreamt possible.

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Scripture Passage

Matthew 1:18–25 (NLT)

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ ” 24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Focus Statement

On many levels – Divine possibility -
Joseph seeing beyond the circumstances to love Mary/Jesus,
Jesus is God’s love for us made incarnate,
Jesus gives us the possibility to love in a way that is beyond what we could do on our own.

Point of Relation

There was a very unusual military funeral in California in December of 2013.
Sgt. First Class Joseph Gantt, who fought in both World War II and the Korean War, was laid to rest.
He had been captured in Korea in 1950 and died the following year.
But his body was not returned for many years, and his death was never confirmed by the North Koreans.
His wife, Clara, waited for decades for her husband to come back.
She regularly went to meetings with government officials seeking information about what had happened.
Clara even bought a house and had it professionally landscaped so all Joseph would have to do when he came home was go fishing.
She was ninety-four years old when his remains were finally brought home for a military funeral with full honors.
It wasn’t the homecoming she dreamed of, but she finally knew his fate.
Clara told a reporter who interviewed her, “He told me if anything happened to him, he wanted me to remarry.
And I told him ‘No, no.’ Here I am, still his wife, and I’m going to remain his wife until the day the Lord calls me home.”
Now, while not remarrying was her choice and had she eventually remarried, it would have honored her husband’s wishes for her happiness.
However, what this does show is that Clara had a deep and abiding love for her Jospeh.

Things To Consider

Many of us have experienced love made possible during the Advent season.
But it is not always so simple.
We might also be anxious about getting people the right presents,
nervous about seeing relatives we have not seen in a year
and wondering about the road conditions on Christmas Eve if you’re traveling…to WORSHIP of course! Wink Wink....
Sure, the Advent season is one of peace, hope, joy and love,
but it is not always so simple.

What Scripture Says

Today, God shares with us an abiding love even in the most difficult situations,
as we turn to the New Testament and hear the story of Joseph’s encounter with the angel in Matthew 1:18-25.
In this passage, we see love made possible by in a number of ways.
First: We see love made possible by the Creator sending Jesus into the world, a miracle!
This is agape love, God’s love for all humankind…for all CREATION.
This passage harkens back to Isaiah 7:14, where it says, “Isaiah 7:14 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”
When this promise was made by the prophet Isaiah,
it would have been impossible to imagine that this child would actually be God-in-the-flesh.
The promised child in Isaiah was depicted as a sign from God to the current king of Judah (Ahaz)
when he was making military and political choices.
The idea that God could be present in human form was impossible
but a love of this depth becomes possible in the person of Jesus.
Jesus takes Isaiah’s prophecy to the next level.
This is what the Advent/Christmas season is all about.
God explodes our expectations
He doesn’t just give us a “sign” but actually shows up!
God hears what we ask for and delivers more than we could ever HOPE FOR!
Second: We see love made possible in the assurance God provides to Joseph (and Mary, in Luke 2) through the angel’s message of comfort.
This happens in the midst of Joseph’s anxiety and decision to “dismiss” Mary.
We may not always get messages from angelic beings,
but God provides assurance and comfort to us in times of anxiety and difficult decision making too.
For instance, when we feel lost and alone, God sends the right person…perhaps a family member or friend…to be supportive and help affirm the right decision making.
Sometimes we do not even realize this comfort and assurance is an expression of love from God until long after the fact.
It can take practice to start noticing where God’s love is showing up day to day.
FINALLY: We see love made possible in Joseph (and Mary) saying “yes” to being the earthly parent of Jesus.
The scripture states that Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”
What trust this must have taken!
Help people to think about areas where they/we need to trust God and the Lord’s deep love for us?
Are we being asked to do or face something difficult or something that might have unknown and daunting consequences?
Friends, Joseph (and Mary’s) can be an example for us of trusting God’s love is at work even when it seems against all odds.
We can trust God when we are anxious,
We can trust God when we are afraid and pressured to make bad choices.
There isn’t a circumstance in which we should not place our trust in God.
God abides in love with us today.
Just as God was with Joseph through this difficult and confusing time,
God is with us today in our own struggles that we experience even during this joyful Advent season.

What This Means for You

Where have you seen or experienced God’s love for you this Advent season?
Pause
Where can you be a sign of God’s love to someone else?
Pause
Let’s take a moment of silence as each of us offers a silent prayer of
(1) “thank you” for the love of God and others and
(2) name a place or person that needs to know God’s abiding love.
I will pray the prayer and when it comes time to put in a person’s name, I will pause and let you do so silently. Let us pray:
“Dear God in this advent season I want to thank you for the love I have seen or experienced in
Pause, let people fill it in
Today I am also praying that your love might be revealed by me in the following person’s life or situation
Pause, let people silently fill it in

What This Means for Us

As a congregation, we are a sign of God’s love made possible in the world.
First we’ve put smiles on the faces of many children and parents last weekend.
We also put smiles on our faces as we gathered together to be the pre-pandemic CHURCH once again...
Yet, our experience through the pandemic helped us pull it off safely.
We have opened our doors to countless families in need of Hope and reasonable prices on stuff they may need or can use through our Treasures of Hope ministry...
Which also gives stuff away to people in need as well.
We help feed countless Sussex County Children who suffer from Food Insufficiency in their homes on the weekend...
Through our support of the weekend bag program.
We connect kids and adults to Jesus and teach them how to walk in his ways through our Christian Education programs.
There are plenty more things to bring up as well…and plenty more opportunities will arise...
Amen?!?! Then let us prepare to not only receive LOVE MADE POSSIBLE through our Lord Jesus Christ,
let us be a sign of Christ’s love through our action as well. Amen!
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