“Be With Jesus” – Sunday Preview for December 24
Merry Christmas! What a wonderful time to come together and celebrate the love and hope of new beginnings. We have two incredible services this week at The Park: An 11am service that looks at what it means to “Be Like Jesus,” and an 11pm service of Lessons and Carols. Both will be incredible hours of worship that you won’t want to miss.My guilty pleasure is reading BuzzFeed articles and taking their quizzes. I love to find out who my fictional best friend would be or where I should vacation next. I also love that they highlight people and places in the world that I may have never heard about otherwise. This is the case with Brennon Jawuan Jones a barber from Philadelphia. Brennon closes his barber shop one day a week and gives haircuts to those experiencing homelessness. Now I don’t know about you, but when I get my haircut, I feel a sense of hope and renewal. A haircut is something that makes me feel cared for and seen. It is a place where people are connected through physical touch and emotional hope. Brennon Jones cares for, brings hope to, and sees anywhere between 15-25 people a week whom society has dismissed.
That is what this week’s scripture from Matthew is all about.
Caring for people.
And loving people for who God has called them to be.
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah 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 fulfil 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; and he named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
God is with us. What a powerful way to look at the world. Even before Jesus’s birth, God was with Mary and Joseph. In God’s gift of Jesus. In Mary’s home of a womb. In Joseph’s fear and love for his wife and child. God was with them. And before Christmas comes this Sunday, God is with us. God sees us as we are and cares for us as we need it. God is with us and takes care of us, and we in turn take care of God through our love of each other. God is with us in the gentle hands of a barber and God is with us in the homeless nights where we hope someone sees us. God is with us as we question the status quo and when we accept blessings into our lives that once seemed like a condemnation. God is with us.
Church, this week as we go throughout the hustle of our lives, may we stop to remember that God is always with us. Sometimes it is as obvious as a sunrise and sometimes God’s presence may be hidden in a kind act between strangers. But we are created and loved by a God that dwells among creation and weaves us together through eternal grace and unrestrained love.