Fourth Sunday of Advent – Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph

SENTENCE FROM SCRIPTURE
Restore us O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance and we shall be saved.

OPENING HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you,

and worthily magnify your holy name;

through Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:

The first commandment is this:

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

There is no other commandment greater than these.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

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CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.

There is no room for fear in love.

We love because God loved us first.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you

and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ

that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.

We are truly sorry.

Forgive us our sins,

and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son

who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

God, who is both power and love,

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit,

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

KYRIE

Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy, Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy

KYRIE
Sung by Sue St Joseph

LIGHT CANDLE ON ADVENT WREATH FOR MARY

ADVENT WREATH

Mary’s gift beyond all telling, was to give Christ room.

She gave God a human dwelling in a mother’s womb.

who could guess the final story?

cross and glory, empty tomb!

COLLECT

Stir up your power, Lord and come

and strengthen us by the might of your love;

that, although we are hindered by our sins,

your abundant grace and mercy may quickly come

and save us; for you live and reign with the Father,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, world without end. Amen

PROCLAIMING & RECEIVING GOD’S WORD

FIRST READING
Isaiah 7:10-16 read by Billy Dewar Riddick

Isaiah Gives Ahaz the Sign of Immanuel

Reflection on Isaiah 7:10-16 | New Life Narrabri

Again, the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals that you weary my God also? 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. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 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.

SECOND READING
Romans 1: 1-7 read by Peter Boreham

Salutation

First Church | I Bring You Good News | Episode 1 - Romans 1:1-7 - The  Gospel of God

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 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, 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, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

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.

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL READING
Matthew 1:18-25 read by Reverend Steven Ballard

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Matthew chapter 1 beginning at verse 18

Glory to Christ our Saviour

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah

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 pregnant from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to divorce 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:

Matthew 1 18-25 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

“Look, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to 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 given birth to a son, and he named him Jesus.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel.

Praise to Christ our Lord

REFLECTION

If you were given the opportunity to meet any adult person in the first Christmas story, who would you choose? I’ve been thinking about that this week, and it’s not easy to decide.

There are so many fascinating people: There is the family–who opened their house to Mary and Joseph and let them use their living space and manger. Obviously, they are a family with a great heart of hospitality and generosity. It would be a joy to meet them and no doubt they would be most welcoming.

There are the Magi–The Wise Men from the East. Who were they? Where did they come from? Were they astrologers? How did they know about the Star? How was their journey? What was it like to see for the first time- the young child Jesus- were they surprised in any way by the newly born King?

A Testimony from Bethlehem's Shepherds – Women of the Word Blog

There are the Shepherds–what was it like for them to be greeted by an angel and then to meet the Holy Family. They strike me as down to earth folks and could tell you straight what happened and know how to spin a good yarn- be most interesting to meet up with them.

Then there is Herod–does he intrigue you? Is he really scary or is he a bit of weasel- sly and sneaky squatting on the throne of Israel, insanely jealous lest a baby steal his glory?

There are so many others- what about Anna the prophetess, waiting all those years in the temple. A real contemplative I suspect who could no doubt impart many an insight into the power and wonder of prayer and praise.

What about Simeon who took the baby Jesus in his arms in the temple and blessed his parents. How did he feel in that moment of divine encounter? How did he know this was the Christ- child? Did he receive a special sign? What were his first impressions of Mary and Joseph?

Seeing Christmas through Mary's Eyes

And then there is Mary. Luke wrote his story about her. Wouldn’t you like to meet the mother of Jesus? I would. She must have been a great woman of tremendous courage, and someone of deep, deep faith that God would entrust the upbringing of his Son to. What did it feel like to Mary to be chosen as the mother of the son of God?

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But there’s someone else I’d like to meet even more. He is the forgotten man of Christmas. Matthew wrote his story about him. His name is Joseph. He is the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. He’s the person from the first Christmas story I would most like to meet.

When I refer to Joseph as “the forgotten man of Christmas,” that’s not an exaggeration. Not much is said about him in the Bible. Not many sermons are preached about him. As a matter of fact, there’s just not much written about Joseph at all. In our carols his name is rarely mentioned- indeed in all the well- known carols we are singing this morning Joseph does not feature. Joseph is certainly the forgotten man of Christmas.

What do we know about Joseph? His father was Jacob. His family hometown was Bethlehem in Judea but he lived in Nazareth in Galilee. He is from the royal line of David. His was a carpenter by trade- which meant more than working with wood. It meant turning your hand to many practical tasks. He was a poor man. We know that because when he and Mary presented Jesus in the temple, they brought a turtle dove to sacrifice. Jews only did that when they could not afford a lamb. He was a religious man, a devout keeper of the law. How old was Joseph when he married? We do not know the answer for certain, but the custom was for a Jewish boy to marry at 17 years of age. Some would say Joseph was much older when he married- indeed very old about 90 years of age but I can see little evidence for that thinking. There is nothing at all to suggest Joseph was older and if he was so much older that would have been headline news. But it wasn’t. Admittedly Joseph was dead when Jesus was in his thirties but that was not an age issue more likely a matter of illness. So, Joseph was probably in his teens when he married Mary.

The Real Christmas Story - ppt download

But what kind of man was Joseph that God would choose him to become father of his only Son? In our reading tonight Joseph was described by Matthew as a just man.

What does it mean Joseph was “a just man”? What does the term ‘being just’ mean to you? In scripture we are told Joseph was a just man as he did not want to expose Mary to public disgrace, but had in mind to divorce her quietly.

What is so just about Joseph there you might in our modern day ask- he was going divorce her albeit quietly? But wait a minute, think of Joseph’s predicament. The book of Deuteronomy states that if a betrothed virgin meets a man in the city and lies with him, the two of them are to be stoned. But Matthew tells us because Joseph was ‘just’ he decided to break the Law of Moses and divorce Mary quietly rather publicly exposing her. Such a bold act invites serious reflection. Was Joseph right to disobey the Law of Moses? Joseph clearly applied an extraordinary and unexpected definition of justice to this crisis with Mary. Justice for him was more than “the equal application of the law.” Was there a broader understanding of justice available to Joseph?

A bruised reed – God & Life & Stuff

There was something written in the book of Isaiah- that Joseph would have read-a bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out, the servant of God will faithfully bring forth justice. Justice as understood by this servant of God is neither retributive justice- you harm me and I will see that you are harmed, nor is it equal application-I pay my taxes and so must you-but here justice means compassion for the weak and exhausted. Joseph looked beyond the penalties of the law to reach to a young woman who was no doubt bruised and exhausted. In his dealing with Mary, Joseph acted out a prophetic definition of justice. Without that prophetic understanding of justice embedded in Joseph’s thinking, Jesus would not have been born. Joseph is therefore not a passive mute figure but rather he is a strong and thoughtful figure whose bold decision saves the life of the mother and her unborn child.

So, Matthew tells us how Joseph acts and in doing so reveals him as a just and compassionate young man. But Matthew does not stop there he also describes how Joseph feels. In Matthew 1: 20 Joseph was told by the community that his fiancée was pregnant. Initially he did not have a vision from the angel informing him that her pregnancy was an act of God. So, Joseph chose to divorce Mary quietly before he heard about details concerning the birth from the angel. He chose to act out of love for Mary in such a manner. He was compelled by love. But love probably wasn’t his first response. How might he have felt on hearing such devastating news? How do you think you would have responded in Joseph’s position?

The common English translation of the Greek word translated here as “he considered” has two separate meanings. Firstly, it does mean like the English words ‘considered or pondered’ but a second meaning is there too “he became angry.” He became angry -Are we surprised by this translation? Does it seem wrong to think that Joseph became very upset or even angry? Wouldn’t that be a natural reaction?

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This idea of an angry Joseph profoundly fits the feelings we would expect anyone to have on hearing the shocking news. This is backed up by the oldest Arabic translation of the Joseph account , dating from the 8th century or earlier. Here the phrase is translated as “he was disturbed over this matter.” The unknown author seems to acknowledge how upset Joseph was so perhaps the translation “while he fumed over this matter” is a better translation of the original Greek and better captures the authenticity of the human story.

Joseph fumed over this matter- fuming over a matter is natural especially when we feel betrayed, hurt, disappointed and ill- treated, but it is not healthy to remain in that state. There needs to be a move from anger to grace. Joseph moved from anger to grace and showed Mary grace in his compassionate and tender actions towards her. He even took Mary with her to Bethlehem which was not essentially as only men had to go for the census but he did so to protect her. He feared if he left her behind, she would not be safe in the community and so he protected her by bringing her with him.

In his short appearance in this Gospel Matthew presents Joseph as a human being of remarkable spiritual stature. He possessed the boldness, daring, courage and strength of character to stand up against his entire community and take Mary as his wife. He did so in spite of forces that no doubt wanted her stoned. His vision of justice led him to transform his anger into grace.

235 Words Grace Stock Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from Dreamstime

How does the idea of turning anger to grace sit with our natural human instinct to seek revenge? How do we react when someone wrongs us? Have you ever been on the receiving end of such grace? Can we by God’s help turn our anger into grace? Joseph is our role model in how to transform our anger to grace.

To meet Joseph would be a huge honour. Joseph is a down to earth man- humble and full of integrity and tenderness, who is not afraid to stand up for what he believes, even if it flies in the face of contemporary rules and laws. He is not only a man of great conviction, courage and compassion, but also a man of sound character with a deep and rich faith. Is it any surprise, is it any wonder that God would choose such a man to be the father and role model for His Son Jesus- the Word made flesh? Without Joseph’s compassion and faith our Christmas story would be very different. His incredible grace turned everything around. Paving the way for us to receive God’s grace in Christ. Amen.

THE CREED

Christ The Savior Lutheran Church

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

God from God,

Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one substance with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father.

With the Father and the Son,

he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRAYERS

Let us pray...May 2019 - YouTube

As we share in Mary and Elizabeth’s joy

at the coming of our Saviour

let us quieten, and still ourselves

in the presence of God.

Heavenly Father, we marvel at the way

you break into our ordinary lives,

and work with us.

We want you to know

that we are willing to be used.

Let it be to me

according to your will.

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We think of the risks and the danger that Mary and Joseph took

in responding in obedience to your call.

Thank you for their faith, courage, and humility

that inspires us and so many.

Fill us by your Spirit so that we may to be open

to your whisper and call.

Let it be to me

according to your will.

The Persecuted Church - Advancing Native Missions | Give Today!

We call to mind before you

those whom we would love to know you

and we ask that you would prepare their hearts

to recognize and receive you.

We remember too those

who are persecuted for their faith

and lift them and their families to you.

Give them the strength, courage

and peace they need in these difficult times.

Let it be to me

according to your will.

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We ask you to reassure

and encourage us in our churches,

giving us insights to the real needs

and what you would have us do.

Grant us hospitality of heart

and generosity of spirit

to everyone we encounter.

Let it be to me

according to your will.

We ask you to give us hearts of generosity

amidst this economic uncertainty

and the cost- of- living crisis,

that we might help those in need.

Let it be to me

according to your will.

Relative vs Absolute Poverty: Defining Different Types of Poverty

We call to mind those who are struggling

with poverty, illness, despair and depression,

and ask you to comfort them,

using us and others to bring

the help and support they need.

Let it be to me

according to your will.

We call to mind those who have died

and thank you for the good

you have worked in their lives.

May we like them share in the life with you

that lasts forever.

Let it be to me

according to your will.

The Wonder of the Incarnation - New Westminster Christian Reformed Church  in Burnaby, BC

As we approach the festival of Christmas

we praise and thank you for the wonder

and mystery of the incarnation.

Touch us afresh with the good news

of the Word made flesh,

and dwelling among us.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those+

who sin against us.

Do not bring us

to the time of trial+

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power

and the glory are yours,

now and forever. Amen.

HYMN

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BLESSING

The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of His son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Welcome

St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

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Notices

Contemporary Service

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.

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St John's Church

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Everyone is very welcome to come along to Choral Evensong for Lent, this coming Sunday 3rd March, 6pm, at St John’s Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, sung by the

St John's Church

1 day 21 hours ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to Choral Evensong for Lent, this coming Sunday 3rd March, 6pm, at St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, sung by the

St John's Church

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Sunday 25th February 2024 is our Eucharistic Service at 11:00am! You are most welcome to come along to our service. Be great to see you! Contemporary service is on Sunday

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Booking is necessary to attend the Pamper Session on Thursday 14th March starting at 3.45pm until 6pm, in St John’s Church Hall, Lovers’ Walk, Dumfries, DG1 1LW. For more information