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Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

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Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations

Lectionary Reflection

Year A, Advent 4 Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary Revised Common Lectionary Gospel

Matthew 1:18-25 (Standard Lectionary and Revised Common Lectionary)

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 with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss 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 fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear 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 borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Reflection on Matthew 1:18-25 by John G. Gibbs, PhD

The focus of all four texts in the Revised Common Lectionary is the good news ("gospel") for a whole community that they are collectively to be restored to wholeness of life ("salvation").

Though Matthew 1:23 quotes from the Septuagint rather than from the original Hebrew, and thus has "virgin" rather than "young woman," even so Mary's virginity may not extend beyond Jesus' birth (1:25). In any case, the whole point of recounting the birth of Jesus as Messiah is to announce the reality "Immanuel," "God with us." For Matthew the genealogy of Jesus is both human (1:1-17) and divine (1:18-25). The import of God being with us is clear to Matthew's readers, who could see that the name "Jesus" is formed out of a Hebrew root meaning "to save."

Accordingly, salvation is the meaning of Jesus' lifework. It remains for Matthew to spell out what salvation means: for "the crowds" and "the mountain" (5:1) where an extended sermon is located, for "wilderness" and the "voice" that cries out there (3:3), for "unclean spirits" confronting "twelve disciples" (10:1), for the creation within which Jesus walked, told parables, ate, slept, was crucified, buried, and resurrected, and for the last mountain in Matthew's gospel, the place from which Jesus sent out eleven disciples who were commissioned by "all authority in heaven and on earth" (28:16-20).

Printable version

To Reflections on other Readings for Year A, Advent 4:

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
Revised Common Lectionary
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Psalm 24 or 24:1-7
New Testament Lesson
Matthew 1:18-25 (this page)
Matthew 1:18-25 (this page)

John G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2007. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John G. Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

MEESC c/o C. Morello 4451 Lakeside Drive Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

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