Fourth Sunday of Advent: How Can This Be?

The Foolishness of the Gospel  (God [Messing] With Us)…

Advent comes to an end – our time of waiting is soon over.  On this Fourth Sunday of Advent we hear once again the prophecy of Isaiah that excites our imaginations even as it leaves us perplexed.  A “young woman” is to play a pivotal role in demonstrating God’s power against the unholy alliances of those who plan to overthrow God’s people.  When King Ahaz looked at the odds, they did not appear to be in his favor.  Even his own relatives – the tribes from the northern kingdom of Israel – are plotting against him.  Can he believe God for the miracle he needs?December 22 - Map

The “young woman” is the bearer of the sign of God’s presence.  The child she will bear will be the indication that God is with us (Immanuel).  In a moment of human stubbornness – Ahaz refuses to “ask for a sign” from God.  Even with divine pleading – “Ask me!” pleads God … Ahaz refuses.  Was he afraid?  Did he know that what he needed was impossible?  What was at stake here, God’s faithfulness, or Ahaz’?

Throughout the season of Advent we have explored Isaiah’s vision – for peace, justice, hope for the poor.  All of these are ideals so lofty as to be improbable.  But this week, the prophet speaks a word that crosses a line.  Christians have interpreted Isaiah 7:14 such that we are asked to believe the impossible.

If you have ever needed the impossible to happen in your life, the Fourth Sunday of Advent is for you.


Prayer for the Day:

God of eternity, Lord of all time, give us faith today that lets us ask for the impossible.  Let not the prevalence of war dissuade us from praying for peace.  Let not the pervasiveness of hatred and prejudice discourage us from praying for justice.  Let not the high mountains of human greed prevent us from believing that generosity can win the day.  For all who are kept out, held down, marginalized—those for whom it is impossible to believe that you are with them … give us the courage to pray with them, and for them.  Place within us a love that celebrates “God with us”.  Make us willing to work for what the reign of God offers, and give us the courage to believe the impossible can happen; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Scriptures:  Isaiah 7:10-16          Luke 1:26-38

Message:    All Things Are Possible   (How Can This Be?)



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Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.