Rev. Rosemary Webb
22nd December 2019
We Must Trust God Today

I always think this is a strange weekend, it certainly isn’t yet Christmas, but somehow it doesn’t feel like Advent. We know what happened in Bethlehem, but at the time only Mary and Joseph knew what traumatic, dramatic event lay ahead, something that was going to affect the world for ever.

The passage from Isaiah tells of God speaking to King Ahaz wanting Ahaz to test him and Ahaz refusing, saying he will not put God to the test. Not very different from Jesus, the son, refusing to let the Pharisees have a sign when he was on earth. By reminding us how Satan was willing to tempt Christ, and God didn’t stop him, while he was in the wilderness and showing us the powerful inner strength of Christ.

And then we have Isaiah saying that God was giving the people a sign, for there among them is a young pregnant woman and God was telling how one day a young pregnant woman will have a son which will be a sign for them, and the son will be called Immanuel.

Yes, God was giving them a sign, one of the many signs God gave them throughout the Old Testament, that one day The Messiah would come to save them, and this was one of the many signs the Jewish people refused to see. There must have been times when God wondered what more would he have to do, for as we know sending the Messiah to earth also failed with many people. But has life altered? People still refuse to listen to God, miss the signs, ignore the Messiah.

Today is the first day of winter, the shortest day light wise. The day that is preparing us to welcome again The Prince of Peace, the Light of Christ. Today the church may seem subdued but on Wednesday we will truly feel that the light of Christ is here.

I always feel that those of us who live in the northern hemisphere are lucky in that a few days after Christmas we become aware that ever so slowly the sun is changing, the light is lengthening, yes, very slowly at first, but in a few weeks we will see the difference. The angle of the sun will alter, the warmth will begin to return to our land. And the cycle begins once more.

Christmas Day is linked to the natural rhythms of earth and sky, in so many ways, it is a part of nature. We must never forget that nature and God are inseparable, they are one, and I believe we also are one with them.

We know God is the Almighty, and that Jesus was always with him, and surely God is only Almighty because there is nothing in heaven or on earth that God did not create. Everything we can see, hear, simply everything is God’s gift to us.

This is where I feel children of my generation were lucky – I know young people can’t probably understand that, probably are fed up of hearing me say it, that life was fun before iPads and all-day TV, all the modern gadgets we have. Through most of my early years there were still frequent power cuts, at times we had no lights never mind electrical gadgets to amuse us, but what we could do was spend time outdoors, watching nature, looking for insects, birds’ nests, rabbit warrens, and we found a joy, even an excitement in it. And I think it brought us closer to God, I really do believe that playing out doors, watching nature does that. I don’t think anyone can spend time with nature and not be overwhelmed by its beauty, its power, and when you see rabbits, birds, whatever, playing together the huge amount of love that nature generates is obvious.

I often feel God was very wise to bring the Messiah to earth before the era of cameras – if we had photos of a baby Jesus, or indeed an adult Jesus, would we always have judged him by his physical appearance, his lovely eyes, beautiful curls for that certainly wouldn’t have been what God wanted. For the description we have of Jesus was of his compassion and love not his appearance. And that is not how God wants us to judge people, and indeed how God judges us. We must never forget it is not what we look like, how clever we are, but what our inner being is, how we show love and compassion, proclaim the Gospel that is what God wants to see. God isn’t interested in money, how prominent a person is, how glamorous.

Jesus told us how we should be, we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts and our neighbours as yourself. Just a very short sentence but one of the hardest things we could be asked to achieve. But luckily for us the mercy of our loving God is never ending, this baby who we are preparing to welcome suffered death on the Cross so that we might have salvation.

In the Gospel we have just heard the angel comes to Joseph in a dream, his message was ‘do not be afraid’ for Mary’s child will be the salvation of the world.” Joseph heard the angel and trusted him, he remembered that this message was the message God gave to Isaiah that a baby would be born and he would be called Immanuel.

That message of trust is the message for us this day. A message which we must truly think about, for we are continuing that long line of people from the beginning of the Old Testament who did listen to God So many types of people, mainly what we would call ordinary people. Certainly I think many were humble people, who when they hear God’s call responded with love and compassion. We are now being called, to listen to God’s voice and continue with the job of proclaiming the Gospel, so that future generations will also be showing how God’s love changed the world.

When we trust in the Lord, life may be hard at times, but God will never leave us. Mary and Joseph both trusted in God they knew he always walked alongside them and he helped them conquer fear, he gave them the confidence to be the parents of the Messiah, the most demanding Job anyone could have, and through their trust in God we today are still able to pass on the Good News, to be Christ’s disciples here on earth now.

Isaiah 7:10
Matthew 1:18