Anybody still reeling from tryptophan? Whew! I am still reveling in the joy of the Thanksgiving gathering at the Settles’ home. I had such great hopes for what it would be like. Not just for me, but for everyone who would be coming. This was the first time in about five years that we had gathered as the extended family. The last time, my mother was still living, and she was able to give input on how to make her dressing (stuffing). But this time I was on my own.
As I mixed the ingredients together by hand, it seemed as though another hand was guiding mine. Now before you think I’m losing it, what I’m saying is that I could remember seeing my mother do this same move so many times, that it felt as though I was following her very movements, mixing it all together until it was as she put it, “consistent.” Onion, green pepper, celery, and various spices went in it. Nothing had a quantity measurement. The only instruction was “to taste.” And while I had a backup plan (that’s between you and me!), I so wanted to bring back a taste, a memory from long ago. So, my hope was not only that I wouldn’t embarrass the family name, but I so hoped for others to be reminded of the precious soul who was no longer with us, my mom. She always made the dressing!
It's an interesting thing to have hope for someone else, to carry the hopes and dreams of others in your heart. In the story of Jesus’ coming birth, that person was Joseph. Jesus’ birth is the story of hope. The angel Gabriel had appeared to Mary and gave her hope of birthing the Savior of the world. What joy she must’ve had as she felt the baby growing in her womb.
Joseph’s story was a little different. The genealogy of Jesus as documented in Matthew 1 gives the account of all of the fathers in Jesus’ lineage, starting with Abraham, who was the father of Isaac. But when Joseph is mentioned, it reads:
“… and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, who bore Jesus, who is called the Messiah.”
Joseph is identified as the husband of Mary, the one who bore Jesus. But not as Jesus’ father as genealogy goes. Joseph was described as a righteous man. But this? Immaculate conceptions were not commonplace, then or now! Perhaps he saw his hopes and dreams being dashed. He and Mary were betrothed. But this? And you know the rumor mill got busy with whispers, mocking, and all out lies! Joseph hadn’t signed on for all of this, so he thought that the best thing to do would be to divorce Mary quietly to spare her any public disgrace. But God has a way of renewing our hope when we thought we had lost it:
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.
Joseph experienced a renewed hope and a mission. But the hope wasn’t for himself. No, his hope was in the coming of the Savior. The One who would bring hope for the world. Can you carry hope when it’s for someone else? Joseph knew this would not be his biological son, but his hope was in the Messianic prophecy:
“Look, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
The heart of Christmas is the Hope of Glory! Hope in the Christ-Child, who was born in a manger. And hope in the Savior who is borne in our hearts. Emmanuel – God is with us!
Jesus’ birth is the story of hope. The hopes and fears of all the years were met in that little town of Bethlehem. We desperately need hope today. We are still recovering from a global pandemic. The economy continues to put a strain on finances, and relationships continue to be estranged. We pray for those who are finding it hard to hold onto hope. But hope calls to us and reminds us that Jesus is still with us today. He is Emmanuel, God with us. The One who brings hope to the world!
This Sunday is the first Sunday of the Advent season. A time of hope. A time when we remember the birth of our Savior, even as we expectantly await His second coming.
I invite you to join us for worship this Sunday, as we begin the Advent Sermon Series: The Heart of Christmas. This Sunday’s message is: Where Hope is Born. You can worship in-person or you can also join us online at 10:00am. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.
Advent Bible Study “The Heart of Christmas” will start on Wednesday, November 30 and end on December 14. We will talk about the Advent theme for that week. So join us for a potluck dinner at 5:45 and stay for the discussion on holding onto hope at 6:30.
Let it Be Christmas! Do you have your tickets yet? This is a truly unique musical performance that uses the music of The Beatles to tell the Christmas story! And it’s written and produced by our very own Rocky Marlowe! The shows are on Dec. 20 and 21. Let’s show our support and celebrate together. For tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/let-it-be-christmas-tickets-369237749047?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
Schoolhouse Project got a lot of press coverage! If you want to see the good folks of Green Trails in action, go to this KSDK link to see the interview. Also, KMOX radio did an interview with me on the project. You can listen to that at this link. God is using us to keep the hope of past generations alive! To God be the Glory!