Christmas at Matthew’s House
Advent Candle Lighting – Peace
Reader One: In this season of Advent, we are here to watch and wait and pray for the coming of light into the world. We long for the day when the things of dark- ness – selfishness and greed, suffering and oppression – shall be no more.
Reader 2: LORD, BY YOUR PRESENCE, LIGHT UP THE PAST
THAT WE MIGHT LEARN FROM IT WITH THANKFULNESS.
LIGHT UP THE PRESENT
THAT WE MIGHT LIVE IN IT WITH LOVE.
LIGHT UP THE FUTURE
THAT WE MIGHT PREPARE FOR IT IN HOPE.
AS WE WATCH AND WAIT AND PRAY,
MAY WE BE ALWAYS READY TO ENCOUNTER THE LORD WHO IS ALREADY AND ALWAYS WITH US. AMEN
Reader 1: We light this candle for all God’s prophets, confronting justice and restoring the dream of a world of freedom and peace.
Reader 2: GOD, AS WE WAIT FOR YOUR PROMISE, GIVE LIGHT, GIVE HOPE.
All: A candle burns,
the sign of your Word.
God of the prophets,
come to us again this Advent.
May your Word be a lamp to our feet and a light on our path.
Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25; 2:13-15, 19-23
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son;[b] and he named him Jesus.
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph[a] got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men,[b] he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.[c] Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph[d] got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”
1. Read Matthew 1:1. For comparison, read Mark 1:1. What does each of these Gospel accounts say about how the good news begins?
2. What titles does each Gospel writer ascribe to Jesus, and what does that communicate about Jesus and about what the writer will emphasize in his story?
3. What does the inclusion of the women in Matthew’s genealogy point to? What might we infer Matthew is trying to communicate by including them?
4. Read Matthew 2:1–12. Based on this text,, what is different about the description of these visitors from how they have been typically described?
5. Consider each of the women named in Matthew’s genealogy and the magi. Identify and jot down aspects of each of them that mark them as outsiders.
6. Consider who in our contemporary context might be identified as outsiders—persons in your own family or among those with whom you interact who are not included for some reason, plus persons or groups presently being singled out by our society as not belonging. What do you think is the implication for those persons or groups that the good news is for all people—the whole of human society?
We give thanks, O God, for the gift of Jesus Christ, your enduring presence with us. Guide us as we continue to discern what it means that the promise is for us—for the great big us—the whole human community. Open our hearts to a clearer understanding of your vision for the cosmos. For it is in the name of Immanuel we pray. Amen.