Worship at Home for Sunday December 18 2022

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Fourth Sunday in Advent. This is the Sunday when we light the Candle of Love. May love be a sign for us as we journey to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus.

If you are unable to worship in person you may wish to set up your own Advent Candles at home and follow along with the liturgy in the bulletin.
If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

  • This Sunday Marilyn Pogue and Jean Baker will play a piano/organ duet as the prelude. Come early to hear this treat.
  • Thank you to all who helped with the Cookie Sale!
  • Remember to Ring Salvation Army Bells today and tomorrow and to donate.
  • Carols and Cocoa on Sunday, December 18 at 2pm. We will carol at members’ homes and return to church for cocoa and treats.
  • Christmas Eve worship will be at 6:30pm and 11pm.
  • Christmas Day is on a Sunday, and worship will be at 9am

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

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

Sermon: Ask a Sign

Imagine that you are in a very difficult place as a ruler of a small kingdom like Judah. King Ahaz of Judah ruled before the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Babylonians destroyed the southern Kingdom of Judah. He hears reports that two enemies who unsuccessfully attacked Jerusalem in the past have gained a new ally. This combined force is plotting to conquer Jerusalem and ruin King Ahaz. (Isaiah 7:1-2) How would you feel? What would you do? Most of us would be very nervous and seek ways to shore up our defenses against attack.

King Ahaz is descended from King David and as such has a special relationship with God. God instructs the prophet Isaiah to meet with King Ahaz and tell him to keep calm, not be afraid and do not lose heart because of these plotters. God says to King Ahaz that the plotted attack will not take place and to stand firm in his faith, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9, NIV)

Through Isaiah God told King Ahaz to ask for a sign that this would be true.  Ahaz was invited to pick any sign that he wished. Ahaz refused. He claimed to be pious but was really a hypocrite who didn’t want to risk that God would have plans for him other than the ones that he was concocting. God became impatient with Ahaz. God gave Ahaz a sign which foretold of one who was to come later. “Look a young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) This prophesy at the time referred to Ahaz’s descendent Hezekiah, but we know it as another sign in another time.

Centuries later we meet Joseph in the Gospels. Joseph was a descendent of Ahaz and King David (Matthew 1:1-16). Joseph was engaged to Mary and had heard some troubling news that she was pregnant. What would you do, if you suspected that the one you had promised to marry was unfaithful? This was an uncomfortable situation for Joseph who was a righteous man. He did not wish to publicly disgrace Mary, so he was trying to come up with a way to break things off quietly. Then an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to give him a sign. The sign being that Mary’s virgin pregnancy as foretold in Isaiah 7:14, though this time the word for young unmarried woman is rendered as virgin and Emmanuel is spelled with an E instead of an I.

Unlike his ancestor, Joseph was willing to listen to God, accept the sign and stand firm in faith. Joseph did not pretend to be pious and stick to his plan to dismiss Mary quietly. Joseph stood firm in his faith and married Mary. He was willing to overlook the gossipy whispers and raise Jesus as his own.

What is troubling you today? Do you feel that others are plotting against you? Do you feel besieged from all sides by various forces? Do you trust God to help you? Will you stand firm in your faith? When God tells us to ask a sign, we are to respond in faith and be prepared to do as God asks. Even when what God asks us to do might be counter to our own pious plans.

God may not create a billboard on the side of the road to guide us. God is with us in troubled times and good. Sometimes what God asks us to do may seem odd. God might speak to us in a dream. Joseph trusted his dream to marry a pregnant woman and raise a child who came from God. What might God be saying to you today? Don’t be like Ahaz and respond with pious hypocrisy. Be like Joseph and trust the sign and do as God requests.

Prayer: God may I respond to your signs with faith and trust. Help me to stand firm in faith. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Jaqueline, Friends of Shelby, Bobby, Kevin, Jim, Darryl (doing better!), Marilee, Beverly, Jim, Jenny, Dixon’s daughter, Barbara, Melvin, Mitchell, Mahala, Maybelle and Mary, La Rae, , Bud, Bob, Ruth, Tyra, Ed, Marilyn, Tom, Jeff, Ken’s mom and for peace in troubled and war-torn places

The family and friends of Mary Bock who passed away on last week.

The family and friends of Liz Clancy’s Uncle whose wife passed away from cancer.

 

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