Readings: 4th Sunday of Advent, December 22, 2013

  All readings from the Message Bible (© 2002 Eugene Peterson)
  • Isaiah 7 10-14

God spoke to Ahaz: “Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!”

But Ahaz said, “I’d never do that. I’d never make demands like that on God!”

So Isaiah told him, “Then listen to this, government of David! It’s bad enough that you make people tired with your pious, timid hypocrisies, but now you’re making God tired. So the Master is going to give you a sign anyway. Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She’ll bear a son and name him Emmanuel (God-With-Us).

  • Romans 1: 1-7

I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words and acts. I write this letter to all the believers in Rome, God’s friends.

The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God’s Son. His descent from David roots him in history, his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master. Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus.  You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ! And I greet you now with all the generosity of God our Father and our Master Jesus, the Messiah.              

  • Matthew 1: 18-24

    The Birth of Jesus

The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant.(It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s prenancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus –  ‘God Saves’ – because he will save his people from their sins”. This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term: Watch for this – a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; they will name him Emmanuel (Hebrew for ‘God is with us’). Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream; He married Mary.

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