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    Dec 25, 2019

    The Wonder of a Promise

    The Wonder of a Promise

    Passage: Matthew 1:18-23

    Speaker: Vivian McCarthy

    God of promise, thank you for sending Jesus to fulfill all of your promises to us. Show us ways that we can keep the promise of Christmas by being your hands and feet in the lives of others.

    Tonight is about the biggest promise God made to us – to be with us always, no matter what.  It’s sometimes hard to grasp that God, who is mystery and holiness is also near and so loving toward us.  It’s hard to wrap our hands around why God would make outrageous promises to us – to be with us, no matter what we do – just because God loves us fiercely.

    So, let’s try to connect with God’s promise in an earthly kind of way.  To begin, think of the most important promise anyone ever made to you and then kept it.  Got it in mind?  How did you feel when the person made that promise?  Did you tingle with expectation?  Were you excited?  Did you start imagining what it would be like when the promised was kept?  Whom did you tell about the promise?  Or, were you skeptical?  What did you do when the person kept that promise?  What effect did that kept promise have on your life?

    Just before Christmas in 2013, Emily Heaton and her dad, Jeremiah Heaton, were having a tea party. Emily loves the Disney Channel’s Princess Sofia — and she very seriously asked her father if she could be a princess.  He said yes.

    Believe it or not, Jeremiah Heaton went searching for a kingdom for his little girl, and he found a patch of desert between Egypt and Sudan that had been unclaimed for over 100 years, and on her 7th birthday, he claimed it as his so he could madke his daughter a princess.  He called his kingdom North Sudan.  (Source: https://on.today.com/2DYWcti)   In terms of fulfilling what many might call an outrageous promise to a 6-year-old, Heaton told a news source, “If I were to die tomorrow, there would be no doubt in her mind ever about the lengths I would go to provide for her and to show her that I love her.”

    The story doesn’t end there.  The Heaton family designed a flag, and they have made plans to use Emily’s kingdom to provide food and water to people in need.

    An outrageous promise.  (By the way, there is currently no indication that North Sudan has in any way been acknowledged as a country.)

    God’s outrageous promise to us was made at the time of Isaiah:  The virgin will conceive a child!  She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).  Matthew then told us that the promise was fulfilled when he quoted Isaiah in his gospel to announce the birth of the Savior.

    Outrageous promises are the stuff of dreams.  How many of you have experienced the outrageous promise of a partner – a partner who says, “I will love you for your whole life.”  How many of you have experienced the outrageous promise of a parent who loves you even when you do dumb things?  How many of you have experienced the outrageous promised of a school system that provides you with a practical education that makes you (or made you) into the adult you want to be? 

    It’s simply outrageous that a God who is mystery and holiness would send his only Son to be with us – to walk alongside us – to assure us – to save us.