CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP
5pm & 9pm
Entering Christmas Anew
As we entered the Church of the Nativity from Manger Square in Bethlehem, we had to stoop down to get through the small wooden door and into the fourth century Common Era church. Our Palestinian Christian guide explained that the door had not always been so small. In fact, it had once been about sixteen feet tall and eight feet wide. The opening had been reduced several times over the centuries, once after invading armies drove their horses and chariots into the nave of the church. An adult must “bow” to enter the church built where it is traditionally believed that Jesus was born two thousand years ago. “It is fitting” our guide said, “that we now must enter with humility into the birthplace of our Savior and not like proud warriors.”
The Christmas story from Matthew offers insights to the true righteousness, humility, and courage we seek to celebrate the birth of Jesus in meaningful and joyful ways.
The main character in this text is Joseph and the narrative tension of the story is Joseph being surprised by God’s working through Mary his betrothed. He discovers that Mary, to whom he is engaged, is pregnant, which is quite a surprise since they have not had sexual relations!
So, Joseph being a righteous man expecting infidelity to be the cause of Mary being with child, would do as the law demands and divorce her, but being a compassionate man, he would make these arrangements discreetly to not make a public spectacle of Mary. The narrative conveys that Joseph’s righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees because his righteousness doesn’t not cause him to lose sight of the divine nature of mercy.
Next, Joseph has a dream in which the nature of Mary’s pregnancy is revealed to him as part of God’s plan. His righteousness is further illustrated by his obedience to God’s command to take Mary as his wife, even though it could appear unrighteous to do so.
The angel also instructs Joseph to name the baby Jesus, which means, “He will save his people” or “Savior.” This text is rich with paradox. This baby born under unusual circumstances, is the agent of God’s purpose to bring salvation or wholeness to humankind. God does not use conventional power and prestige to accomplish God’s plan, but the righteousness and faith of Mary and Joseph.
True righteousness is different from legalism and tribalism that too often passes as religion. Righteousness incorporates humility and faithfulness, nor does it cause one to lose sight of the divine nature of mercy and compassion. As we enter the seasons of Advent and Christmas in these contentious times, may we do so with the true righteousness and faith of Mary and Joseph.
Confirmation Schedule Fall 2021
Classes meet Wednesdays at 6:30-8 pm meeting at St. Paul’s Lutheran, 218 E 19th Street.
December 1 Advent Worship: attend and participate
December 8 Advent Worship: attend and participate
December 15 Advent Worship: attend and participate
December 22 Advent Worship: attend and participate
December 29 Night off. Get ready for 2022!
YOUTH GROUP MEETING
Our next Youth Group Meeting, grades 8th through 12th, will be at the church on Sunday, December 5th. Please note there is a slight time change and we’ll meet from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. We’ll decorate Ascension’s Christmas tree, play some trashketball, and have an indoor Christmas picnic with burgers and brats. Come for fun and fellowship! Please RSVP to Teisha
November 28, 2021