“Inspire Generosity: Ready Our Hearts” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

December 17th,2020 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,Can you believe that the fourth Sunday of Advent is already here? It is the Sunday of Love, Amor. And what a perfect word to lead this time together. There are three worship services between this Sunday and the next, and I hope you will make a plan to attend. This Sunday is Cantata Sunday. If you are new to our community, Cantata Sunday is a worship experience that is comprised of music and readings. Then we have our Christmas Eve Service at 11 pm on December 24th. Then worship again the following Sunday. You will hear more about these worship services next week, but we want to make sure you made a plan to attend- because we are not us without you!

The Cantata Sunday is made of many different readings all pointing us to one thing- the birth of Jesus. But did you know that only two of our four gospels have the birth of Jesus in them? This week instead of digging into one piece of text I invite you to read Matthew and Luke’s birth narrative and see which one speaks to you?

Matthew 1:18-25

18 This is how the birth of Jesus came about.

When Jesus’ mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her husband, an upright person unwilling to disgrace her, decided to divorce her quietly.

20 This was Joseph’s intention when suddenly the angel of God appeared in a dream and said, “Joseph, heir to the House of David, don’t be afraid to wed Mary; it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child. 21 She is to have a son, and you are to name him Jesus—‘Salvation’—because he will save the people from their sins.”

22 All this happened to fulfill what God has said through the prophet:

23 “The virgin will be with child

and give birth,

and the child will be named


—a name that means “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of God had directed, and they went ahead with the marriage. 25 He did not have intercourse with her until she had given birth; she had a son, and they named him Jesus.

Luke 2:1-20

1 In those days, Caesar Augustus published a decree ordering a census of the whole Roman world. 2 This first census took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All the people were instructed to go back to the towns of their birth to register. 4 And so Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to “the city of David”—Bethlehem, in Judea, because Joseph was of the house and lineage of David; 5 he went to register with Mary, his espoused wife, who was pregnant.

6 While they were there, the time came for her delivery. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn, a son; she put him in a simple cloth wrapped like a receiving blanket, and laid him in a feeding trough for cattle, because there was no room for them at the inn.

8 There were shepherds in the area living in the fields and keeping night watch by turns over their flock. 9 The angel of God appeared to them, and the glory of God shone around them; they were very much afraid.

10 The angel said to them, “You have nothing to fear! I come to proclaim good news to you—news of a great joy to be shared by the whole people. 11 Today in David’s city, a savior—the Messiah—has been born to you. 12 Let this be a sign to you: you’ll find an infant wrapped in a simple cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in high heaven!

And on earth, peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see this event that God has made known to us.” 16 They hurried and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger; 17 once they saw this, they reported what they had been told concerning the child. 18 All who heard about it were astonished at the report given by the shepherds.

19 Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went away glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as they had been told.

Which one did you grow up hearing? Why do you think this part of Jesus’s life was left out of Mark and John? I think it has to do with power, how about you? It makes me wonder, how do we love, value, and support pregnant women and newborn babies? Especially if they are left out of the narrative. What power do we give mothers and infants, yet what power do we give this mother and infant? The Christ child is not quite here…but he is coming.  We may not need to ready a nursery, but we will need to ready our hearts.

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, help me ready my heart and spirit for you. Amen