Fourth Sunday Advent; Isaiah 7:10-16; Matthew 1:18-25 – A central question throughout Matthew’s gospel is how can followers of Jesus fulfill Hebrew Law and yet live in response to ethical realities of their day. To be right with God, how do we nurture life as intended in scripture, yet interpreted relative to changing particularities of our time? Matthew frames the question with an ancestral lineage of faith, including many imperfect people, and unorthodox situations.
Third Sunday of Advent; Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 1:39-55 – So, friends, how are we all doing on that little matter of Christmas gifts? Lots of ideas for techy toys or books or clothes or food? Delighted with progress in purchases or distracted by other events? Feeling behind and stressed? Calendar days flying by, possibilities running dry? Tis the season, when we want the perfect gift—to please a longing heart and bring a smile to beloved family, friends, or colleagues… Inasmuch as gifts try to express our love and nurture relationships, they are a good and meaningful part of the season. Tis the season … when expectations can increase the fun and satisfaction or by contrast, the frustration and even sadness.