Used-To-Thinks - Reflections - 12-15-16

 Texts for Sunday, 
 December 18, 2016
 Fourth Sunday of  Advent

 Isaiah 7:10-16
 Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
 Romans 1:1-7
 Matthew 1:18-25

 Used-to-thinks.
 We’ve all had them. We thought we understood how or why then we find out that we were way off base. It’s either more complicated that what we thought, or maybe even completely different than what we thought.

I think (oops) that the texts this Sunday are examples of people in the midst of used-to-thinks.

The Sunday’s Gospel, Joseph was certain he knew what happened to cause Mary, his fiancee, to be pregnant. It was a deal-breaker for the engagement. But God intervened in Joseph’s plans to “dismiss her quietly”. In a dream, God assured Joseph that it wasn’t what he thought. He could trust God was acting on his – and all humanity’s – behalf.  So, Joseph took on the job of dad, including naming him as God directed: Jesus, which means “God saves”. 

The text from Isaiah is in the middle of a story of how the northern part of the former kingdom of Israel has joined forces with Aram (which is now Syria) to attack the southern part. The king of the south, Ahaz, is quaking in his boots. He thinks that his nation is toast.  God, through Isaiah, encourages Ahaz and his people to “stand firm in faith” -  trust that God will act on your behalf.  God even offers to send “a sign” to assure them of his intentions. 

And then, thinking he would score righteousness points, Ahaz turns God’s offer down. “I would never put God to the test”.

Well…wrong, says God. I will give you a sign even if you don’t ask for one. “A young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall call him Immanuel.” BTW, Immanuel means “God is with us”. Get it?

Matthew saw a connection between Ahaz’ used-to-think and Joseph’s. Using the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, he quoted this text from Isaiah: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel”. God is with us. God saves. Trust that God is acting on your behalf.

This story goes on. The people of Israel think they know what the Messiah was going to look like and what he was going to do to save them. But…. God Almighty takes on human frailty and flesh as a baby…. Born in a stable… fleeing as a refugee… vulnerable to cold, hunger, pain.  

And, the people thought death was the end.

The only thing we can know for sure is that we don’t know anything for sure. 


God is with us…probably not like we think God is with us… 

Comments are welcome below.

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Written by Pam Larabee-Zierath


Gathered by Grace, Scattered for Service
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