Reflection – December 22, 2019 (Advent 4) by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Isaiah 7:10-16/ Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19/ Matthew 1:18-25
The Love of God – Emmanuel
Have you ever heard of this saying, “Friends don’t let friends (blank)”? Friends don’t let friend make stupid decisions, for example. I’ve also heard a choir director say, “Choir directors don’t let choir members clap on one and three.” When I was studying to become a teacher at University of New Brunswick, my best friend was a guy named Siva. One day, I told my friends about a stupid decision I made. All the other friends were like, “It’s none of my business; I accept your decision,” but Siva got mad at me. He couldn’t condone my stupid decision. That’s when I knew he was a true pal, that he truly loved me.
But it’s not only between friends; parents shouldn’t let their children get everything they want. Those of you who are parents will know the challenge of making difficult or unpleasant decisions for your children because it’s good for them. You may force feed vegetables as they cry in protest; my son Cedric does that a lot because he’s a picky eater. Or you might watch them attempt their first step and fall. You don’t only do pleasant things with your children because doing what is best for them is love, even the difficult, unpleasant, and heartbreaking ones; overindulging is not love.
Today, we heard the word “Emmanuel” more than once in our scripture readings. The Chosen One of God will be called Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” This name sums up what the love of God is about. Because God loves us, God will be with us. Because God loves us, God sends us, to quote the Bible, “His only begotten son.” Because God loves all people, God sent this “only begotten son” to bring healing and justice to the suffering. Because God loves us, Jesus dedicated his earthly life “being there” for the most vulnerable of his society and rebuked the powerful who loved dominating. If you truly love someone, you are there for them in their times of need. In today’s gospel reading, because Joseph loved God, he obeyed although it was a very difficult decision to marry someone who is already pregnant. By the way, do any of you wonder why the angel ignores Mary who is the one to bear the child and comes to Joseph? Are any of your offended? Apparently, the author of the Gospel of Matthew thought his audience would find his book more credible if the man is at the centre of a story about childbirth. But in the Gospel of Luke, the angel goes to Mary to tell the good but extremely difficult news. In the Gospel of Luke, because Mary loved God, she obeyed, risking her reputation and life. Because we love our friends, we don’t let them make stupid decisions. Because we love our children, we do what we believe to be the best for them, whether it pleases us or not.
In the biblical world, there were people crying out to God to save them and restore their dignity. There are still those who cry out in our world. God still sends us the message that God loves us, empathizes with our pain, and does not condone oppression and domination. God never stopped sending faithful followers into their world to be God’s agents of love, or as St. Francis put it, “the channel of thy peace.” The works of these people helps suffering people understand that God is there for them. Just like Joseph and Mary obeyed for the love of God, we should honour God’s will represented by the life and teachings of Jesus. If we love God and follow Jesus, we should live by the teachings of Jesus.
On this last week of Advent, as Christmas day is imminent, let us reflect on God’s love that came down to the suffering world to give hope; the good news that God’s kingdom and love are for all people without discrimination. Let us look around, both literally and metaphorically, to see those in our world who are crying out. Let us become the channel of God’s love for them and share the peace and joy we received from God.