A LampLight Conversation on the lessons for the Fourth Sunday in Advent
This week on LampLight Conversations, Pastor Adam Reichart joined our conversation on the lessons for the Fourth Sunday in Advent. Pastor Reichart serves at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hoxie, KS.
As we approach the last Sunday in Advent, the Sunday of love, our conversation began with the Gospel lesson, Matthew 1:18–25. Pastor Reichart led off by calling to our attention that oftentimes as we hear these Gospel narratives, there’s a kind of predictability as to who the good guys and the bad guys are. And so, if we are trying to connect with these characters in Scriptures, then we fall into predictable patterns. For instance, when we hear John the Baptist’s rail against the Pharisees, as we did a few weeks past, and as we prepare for our Lord’s coming, knowing that we should do so with a humble, repentant heart, there is a likelihood that we don’t identify with the Pharisees, but rather with the crowds. But Pastor Reichart encourages us to remember to identify with all of the characters in the narrative. As we let our Lord’s Gospel speak to us, by being mindful to identify with all of the different characters put forth in the lessons, we let God’ Law speak to us, for they really flesh out how we are at different times and in different ways in our lives. Thus, with this Gospel lesson, Pastor Reichart leads us to consider Joseph, the Guardian of our Lord, to see what we might learn from him about faith, and about Jesus.
Mary gets a lot of attention during Advent and Christmas, but we would do well to remember that Joseph, as head of the household, is the one who protects and provides for the infant and child Jesus. Now while we must always remember and clearly confess that Jesus is Divine, that His true Father is God, we should not shove Joseph off to the side as if he has no bearing for us. For by looking at Joseph, how he encounters the Lord, and what happens to him, we too might grow in our own understanding and in our own walk in faith.
With that, we considered Joseph and his situation when Mary comes and tells him that not only is she pregnant, but that she is pregnant with God’s child. We note Joseph’s character, that he is a just man, for even in the midst of his hurt and feelings of betrayal, he is unwilling to put her to shame. Rather, he makes the decision to divorce her quietly. But God, in His grace sends an angel to reveal to Joseph that Mary has indeed told him the truth – that she has not betrayed him; that she has not been unfaithful, but that she does in fact carry the child of God.
We also noted another identifying factor of Joseph’s character in how he reacts to this angelic message. He takes on the responsibility and most likely the social stigma that would have come about from her pregnancy. Joseph doesn’t try to fool society with a lie about the conception of Jesus, but clings hold to the same confession as Mary: this child is from God. From a societal point of view, Joseph would suffer shame, but in that supposed shame, Joseph maintains and defends the Virgin birth of our Lord.
Our conversation then turned to the Old Testament lesson, Isaiah 7:10–17, where we find the prophecy which is being fulfilled in the Gospel lesson. The context of this prophecy is that Ahaz the king of Judah refuses to seek or rely upon God, and yet the Lord provides a sign nonetheless – the prophecy of the Virgin birth. While the incarnation of God had been prophesied many times over prior to this prophecy, it is in this account that God informs us that the Promised One would be born of a Virgin. As we come closer to the Advent of Christ, the prophecies of the Promised Seed become clearer, until we come to the time when Mary does conceive Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Looking from Eve to Ahaz, Pastor Reichart brings out the point that God reveals to every generation the specifics of His will. While Ahaz might seem pious, he doesn’t trust in God. Yet God is faithful, He keeps His promises. And His promise is, first and foremost, the promise of the One who will crush the head of the serpent. So too, do we learn from this account that our faith does not determine whether or not God keeps His promises, they remains true because they are His Words, His Promises.
In our Epistle lesson, Romans 1:1–7, we noted how this lesson really encompasses both the Old Testament and Gospel lessons, in that we have heard the promise and fulfillment of the promise of Christ our Lord.
These are just a few of the highlights from our conversation on the lessons for the Fourth Sunday in Advent. If you click here, you can and listen to the whole episode. We here at LampLight Conversations would encourage you to join in on the conversation of these lessons with your comments and questions below.
Also, the next time our conversationalists will be in front of the mic, they will be unpacking the following lessons: 1 Kings 3:4–15; Psalm 119:97–104; Ephesians 1:3–14; Luke 2:40–52. We would be honored if you would, by means of comments and questions posted below, join us in our conversation.
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