Presence

On December 23, 2018, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Presence (Psalm 46; Matthew 1) Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Let us dwell together in peace; and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. It’s the last Sunday of Advent, a season of waiting, and that can mean […]

Presence
(Psalm 46; Matthew 1)
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Let us dwell together in peace; and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

It’s the last Sunday of Advent, a season of waiting, and that can mean only one thing…

{Song: I Want A Hippopotamus for Xmas}

Ive loved that song since I was quite young.
At first, it was a fun jingle with a wish for a comical, implausible gift.
But i never outgrew it!

Maybe because the song was originally meant to raise awareness to help raise money for an Oklahoma zoo. So, the song itself is an act of generosity.

Also, there is something theological about the song. Of course, to theologians, everything is theological. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

The child in the song-story dreams big, believes that is she can dream it, she can somehow, eventually achieve it. She believes that goodness is present to her and would never withdraw from her. That’s good theology. And that’s Christmas. So…the dream hippo remains a part of my xmas celebrations.

Today’s scripture lessons reinforce the message that a loving presence is with us all, ready to be revealed where it is needed most, even where others have forgotten to look.

The Psalmist reminds us: God is our refuge and strength, a very PRESENT help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…

Divine Love being present in a time of trouble is what Matthew’s story demonstrates today.

Matthew tells us that when Mary was engaged to Joseph but before they lived together, she found she was with child…

They weren’t living together. And Joseph was tempted to quietly leave her, because clearly, the child wasn’t his. But even though the child has questionable paternity and his conception is something of a scandal, the angel of God says the child’s origins are divine.

I think that’s God’s message to us, today and at all times. Not that this baby or that is conceived in strange or unlikely ways, but that no matter how any of us get here or where we land, we are each the child of God. If God is omnipresent, then we are all from and in God’s presence, which means no matter who we are, we are all the children of God.

No scandal, no mistake, no tragedy, no regret, no misfortune can separate us from the love that God is.
God is our source, our origin, our life.

Joseph knows the child isn’t his. He’s hurt. Disappointed. Angry. Embarrassed.
The Angel basically says, “All children are God’s children. We come through our parents, but we come from God. We are all divine children. So, Child of God Joseph, you take care of child of God Mary and child of God Jesus.”

Isn’t God telling us the same, today?
Be mindful of the Queer children of God.
Be mindful of the children that don’t fit into gender binaries.
Be mindful of children who are hungry
Be mindful of children dodging bullets.
Be mindful of refugee children suffering through not fault of their own.
The child may not be yours, but it is never the less your responsibility. Please take care of the child…Joseph.

So Joseph accepts Mary.
And Joseph accepts Jesus, and gives him a name, thus giving him status and the protection and stability that a family can provide.

And in this uncofomfortable situation, we find that God is with us.
Matthew misapplies a quote form the prophet Isaiah, but even while not being true to Isaiah’s intention, he nevertheless shows us something that is very true: God is our refuge and strength, a very PRESENT help in trouble. Therefore, we need not fear…

Jesus’ conception, birth, much of his life, and his final days are all wrapped in questions, intrigue, and danger.
And God loves him. God is with him. God smiles on those who help care for him. God is present in time of trouble.

Emmanuel. God with us. That’s not just about Jesus, but Jesus is one of the ways that we see that God is with us, no matter who we are or what is happening to or around us.

Have you felt alone?
Afraid?
Overwhelmed?
Today’s story reminds us that even when we feel those feelings, God is with us, loving us unconditionally, holding us close, never letting us go.

The name Jesus means rescuer. Jesus rescues us from fear and hopelessness by reminding us with his very life that whoever we are, wherever we are, God is with us. God’s love will never let us go.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help…Therefore, let us not give in to fear.
And this, dear friends, is the good news. Amen.

God is my refuge and strength.
God is always a present help.
Therefore, I will not fear.
Alleluia!
Amen.

 

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