Hiddy Folks. I know Christmas is fast approaching, so schedules and brains are probably getting increasingly frazzled. AND I don't want folks to stop preparing for our worship together on Sunday mornings - because that would just give into the cultural communication that anything-but-Jesus is the reason for the season. So let's keep spending time with God, in His word, and loving on each other! With that said . . .
READ Matthew 1:18-25
If this passage is familiar, try reading it in a fresh way - try a different translation of the Bible, read it outloud, write it out, or read it with someone who is all together UNfamiliar with it (like a child or a non-Christian).
What strikes you? Why?
Joseph is told to name Mary's son, "Jesus" . . . or in his language, "Yeshua" [our "Joshua"]. He wasn't the first or last Yeshua in history by any means. Yeshua means "to rescue." Who does the passage say that this Yeshua was going to rescue, and from what?
The passage goes on to give us a different name for Jesus. What is it? What does it mean? Why would Yeshua be a fulfillment of a prophecy for a son by that name? [What do the two meanings teach us when held together?]
As is often the case when an angel first begins speaking to a human, this one tells Joseph, "Do not fear." What would Joseph have been fearing? What is the comfort provided instead? How effective is this comfort in transforming Joseph's behavior?
As the Christmas song, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen says, this story brings "tidings of comfort and joy." Does that ring true or false to you? Why? If it does ring true, and you find comfort in this story, how effectively are you able to allow it to transform your behavior? How readily can it compel you to obey God's commands?
Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy