Worship Resources for the week of the Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 18, 2022
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
4 O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
17 But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.
18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.
19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6 including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’
46 And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test. 13 Then Isaiah said: "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.
The Lord had promised David one of his descendants would rule over God's people forever, a great and forever king. This is the passage in which Isaiah prophesied his birth, the birth of the Messiah. To the faithful in Israel this was the greatest promise and comfort that God made. Isaiah prophesied this about 730 years before Jesus was born, but he wasn’t the first or the last to prophesy the Messiah.
When Isaiah says the Messiah will eat curds and honey, it means that the Messiah will experience both want and adversity so that he knows how to reject what is morally wrong and choose what is morally right.
Isaiah's words emphasize the urgent need for Ahaz to trust God, and the danger in failing to do so. The Assyerians were about to defeat Sammaria, and then head to Judah, but Ahaz didn’t listen to Isaiah. Ahaz became loyal to the Assyerians and followed their orders in order to remain king.
By the way, Ahaz was just a nickname. His real name was Jehoahaz II and he became king of Judah when he was about 20 years old. He was not one of the good guys. He worshiped other gods, practiced child sacrifice, and ignored Isaiah.
Questions to ponder
Why do you think the Messiah would be named Immanuel (which means God is with us)?
What do you think about when you hear the words “God is with us”? What does it feel like to know God is with us? What does it look like?
How hard would it be to wait for the Messiah?
How do we know when God is with us?
Let us pray…
Heavenly Father, as we wait again to celebrate the birth of the Messiah, help us to better understand what the arrival of the Messiah means to the whole world. Show us the ways in which we can help prepare the way of the Lord. Empower us to live in the Kingdom of God now and to invite others as well. Amen