A Child Is Born For Us
Opening Question: What do you plan to do this Christmas vacation? Are you plans big or small?
First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
King Ahaz nervously paced through his palace. His enemies from the north advanced on the city, but stopped. Everyone in the capital city, Jerusalem, was afraid of the coming army. "What am I to do?" the King thought to himself. "What am I going to do for the people?"
King Ahaz gathered his advisors together. Some advised an all out attack on the enemy. Others advised that the king send someone to ask for terms of peace. Still others said to wait and see what happens.
Then the King asked Isaiah, the holy man of Jerusalem: "Bright Isaiah, What should I do?"
Once again the Lord God spoke to King Ahaz. This time he said, "Ask me for proof that my promise will come true. Ask for something to happen deep in the world of the dead or high in the heavens above."
"No, Lord," Ahaz answered. "I won't test you!"
Then I said:
Listen, every one of you in the royal family of David. You have already tried my patience. Now you are trying God's patience by refusing to ask for proof. 14 But the Lord will still give you proof. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:10-14 (CEV)
"What?!" King Ahaz shouted. "My sign is a young woman who will give birth to a child. I have enemies who threaten us, and all you can talk about is a mother and baby?" But King Ahaz didn't understand. To fight an enemy requires people to look for the smallest thing to take advantage of an enemy, even the things closest to them.
God uses the smallest people to do the greatest things. Moses stuttered but he led the Israelites to freedom. David was a small shepherd when he killed the great Goliath. Now he would use a young pregnant woman to slay the greatest enemies of all, sin, sickness, and death! Who was that young woman? (Mary) who was the baby (Jesus).
Bridging Question: Have you ever had to choose between friends? If you did, what happened?
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24
This is what happened when Jesus was born. When Mary found out she was pregnant by the power of God's Spirit, she was already engaged to Joseph. He was a good man and he didn't want to embarrass her in public. So, Joseph decided to end their engagement in private.
During the time Joseph was thinking about his decision, one of God's angels appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of King David," the angel said to him. "Don't be afraid to make Mary your wife. She got pregnant by the power of God's Spirit! She will have a son. And you will call him 'Jesus' because he will save people from their sins."
This has happened so what God say in the Bible will come true.
"Look! A virgin will get pregnant.
And she will have a son.
His name will be 'Emmanuel.'"
This name means 'God is with us.'
After Joseph woke up, he did what God's angel wanted him to do. He made Mary his wife.
Sally was ashamed of her friend Jerry. Jerry was a nice, helpful neighbor. Jerry was always there to pitch in, to carry the load. But Jerry wasn't too bright and he didn't have the best manners. People whispered about Jerry. "He's the dumb slob," said one. "He's never going to amount to very much," added another. "Who would want to hang out with Jerry?" a third one chimed in. The popular people thought Jerry was a loser.
Sally felt trapped. On the one hand, Jerry was loyal friend. On the other hand, no one would like Sally if she hung out with Jerry. What was more important? One friend or many friends? Sally stewed so much even Jerry noticed.
Finally, Sally asked her mom what to do. "It's real important to you to have friends, isn't it?" Sally's mom said. "But what kind of friends do you want? Friends to be seen with or friends to share your joys and sorrows. Friends to brag about or friends to lean on. Friends to gossip with or friends to help you when gossip hurts you. What kind of friend do you want?" her mom added.
Sally fell silent. She knew what her mom was saying, and she knew her mom was right. But, still someone would get hurt. Sally's mom could see the struggle Sally was going through.
"You know, Sally," her mom said, "when you make hard choices, like the one you are making, sometimes it hurts. But, who is it going to hurt: you or others? How long will the hurt last? If you do the right thing, won't the hurt go away?"
"Thanks mom," Sally said, "you helped a lot." Sally had made up her mind. Jerry was her friend and would remain her friend. The opinions and the gossip of the popular kids at school might hurt, but at least she would have a true friend. At that, Sally felt at peace; she knew she had done the right thing.
Like Sally, Joseph faced a problem. Marrying a pregnant Mary might be embarrassing. But like Sally's mom giving her advice, an angel came to give Joseph peace. Yes, people would gossip about Joseph, but it didn't matter to Joseph. He was given a gift from God: a step-son who would give people hope, a special someone who would lead everyone to God. By marrying Mary, Joseph knew he was doing the right thing; what people said didn't matter. After all, his small decision changed the world.
Closing Question: How can God help you make the right decisions and the right friends? How can God help you, when other people don't agree with what you do?