Date: December 18, 2016
“OF WONDER AND WEARY DREAMS”
SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 7:10
15; MATTHEW 1: 18
GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC
December 18, 2016
The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor
1:18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in t
his 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.
1:19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to
public disgrace, planned to dismis
s her quietly.
1:20 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.
1:21 She wi
ll bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people
from their sins.”
1:22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the
1:23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall nam
Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
1:24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded
him; he took her as his wife,
1:25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named
you let yourself, your imagination can travel through time
to a p
lace you never
that anticipated you.
There is enough in this strange place for you to recognize the contours of
Family ties, rules of the game, expectations,
and people not living up to them
motivating and confounding
power of shame
the bewildering realities of power
that is abused, the struggle to know who to trust.
Let yourself come to rest in this long ago time
where familiar fears invite your
Where things you’ve never known ask for your acceptance.
A girl, probably around 12 years old, is promised to a man
a man who plays by the
book, a man who i
s solid, respected
She is promised to him in a room
full of men
esses to the exchange, and the man, the righteous
man, the man who plays by the book.
The girl is pr
omised to the righteous man for
marriage at a future time, appointed
gathered in that dusty room
She lives under t
he watchful eye of her father in this interim time
relocated to another man’s power. For weeks, months, probably a year, the
young woman lives in her father’s house, marked for a transfer of power that is
already underway and legally b
Everyone knows the rules of the game
this deal is done…
unless, the young girls
or sexually violated.
comes up pregnant during this time of scrutiny and expectation
is very little mercy
she knows this, he knows
everyone knows this.
Have you ever felt the weight of this kind of impending shame, this kind of
threatened loss of everything
your future, your family, your dignity, maybe even
your life. Imagine the weight of everything beginning to crumble, every
She is pregnant. The man knows it is not his child.
The worst that can happen is that
she and whoever the father is will be stoned to death. The more likely scenario is
that she is publically humiliated and her child will be a pariah
, locked out from the
favor and acceptance of the world he is born into, barred from inheritance, from
public office, from winning a court decision, even from spiritual salvation.
The words used to describe this
in this long ago place
the words we
use for excrement.
Feel the weight of this situation. Everything is on the line.
The law is on the man’s side, the righteous man, the man
who, in good faith, trusted
father to deliver his daughter in the accepted and expected
way to his
home. This righteous man, this man who g
oes by the book, knows the well
path of his legal entitlement
demand a hearing to determine if
the girl had been seduced or raped.
that this hearing would make their dilemma public
: the girl would surely be
humiliated and most probably subject to a blighted and grueling future. The