“God With Us”; scripture and questions for Dec. 22

Isaiah 7:10-16
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.
Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
As Christmas nears, we are aware of the name the holy child is given by the prophets, Emmanuel. It means “God with us.” It is a lovely thought for a moment and then we begin to wonder, how is God with us? Is God actually with us in a new way in Jesus, or is this story a metaphor for all the ways God has been with humanity, with us? Was there ever a time when God was not with us? When was that, and what changed in Jesus, if anything? Certainly no sermon can answer these questions, but certainly no sermon can be preached that does not in some way consider these questions and the myriad answers that humanity has ventured over the ages. What do you think?

Jeffrey Sartain
Executive Minister

About PlymouthSpirit

Plymouth Congregational Church is a progressive faith community grounded in the Christian tradition. We are spiritual, loving, relevant and transforming.
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2 Responses to “God With Us”; scripture and questions for Dec. 22

  1. joanmjsmiley says:

    I think Jesus was known as Emmanuel (God is with us) because Jesus’ life was seen and understood by those who witnessed and experienced Jesus’ way of living and his teachings as exemplifying a life lived in accord with God’s will so that a compassionate community and respect for all peoples is realized. What a blessing to humanity that Jesus lived. What blessing that Jesus’ life was recorded and that disciples and the beliving community were inspired to sharing the good news with others that Jesus, known now as the Christ or the long promised Messiah had been present with them. The Christian way of life was/is available to all who seek to follow his teachings.

  2. God is with us in a new way with Jesus. God transforms from a vengeful, parental God into the more benevolent God of Jesus. Charity, forgiveness, forbearance, patience, all become more palpable.

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