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Sunday Devotion: 22 December 2019, Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sunday Devotions

Fear not, God is with us

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Main readings: Isaiah 7.10-16; Psalm 80.1-7, 17-19; Romans 1.1-7; Matthew 1.18-25

Supplementary readings: Psalm 72.1-14; 2 Corinthians 12.21-13.7; Ruth 4.9-21; Psalm 80.7-19; Matthew 1.1-6 (7-16) 17

“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.” (Matthew 1.20)

In the 2006 dystopian motion picture action thriller, Children of Men, the world is depicted devoid of children, laughter, joy and play, instead dominated by relentless war and humanity’s impending extinction. Just as the viewer is exhausted by the violence and hopelessness, a child is born into the chaos. Gunfire stops. Silence. The audience takes a breath. A child is carried into their midst.

When Joseph realises Mary is pregnant and the baby is not his, he plans to dismiss her according to social custom, albeit quietly. But, in a dream an angel appears to Joseph and says, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife”. The passage goes on to speak of the fulfilling of the prophecy we read in today’s Isaiah reading, “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7.14). Today’s readings proclaim that in the birth of Christ, God is with us (‘Immanuel’).

We are bombarded daily with messages of hopelessness through stories of violence in the digital and print media we consume. However, when the child is born into relentless bleakness in Children of Men, I am reminded of our Advent hope — the birth of the Christ child. In just a few days we will rejoice as Mary gives birth to Jesus, God with us, the Prince of Peace.

In the Christmas story we are invited as disciples of Christ to bear Christ, working constructively to bring hope and peace into a broken world.

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