*NOTE: This will be the final Good News Brief of this year due to the Christmas holiday.*
RECAP: LOVE TAKES ACTION based on Matthew 1:18-25
There are many ways to define love. But what is the love of God? God’s true love is self-sacrificial for the welfare of another, specifically humanity. God demonstrated his love for the whole world by first sending his son to this earth (Advent) to die for our sins (Good Friday). God did so when we were still sinners and enemies (see Romans 5:6-8). This love cared so much about our sinful state that he chose to do something about it. God is Love, but he is also Holy, Light, and Righteous. Sin cannot stand in his presence nor co-exist with it. So, instead of ignoring sin, redefining sin, or choosing to tolerate sin, he found a way to set people free from the weight of sin and carved a path to redemption. Christmas exists because of God’s redemptive love!
But can such a love exist in a human being? The most undervalued and under-preached character of the Christmas story is Joseph. Yet Joseph was the perfect candidate to be the earthly father of Jesus because he demonstrated God’s heart and lived out God’s agape love. Joseph was described in the text as a righteous man who was faithful to God. Yet, his true heart was revealed by his actions motivated by love. How can Joseph serve as a model for living out God’s love?
- Love the person despite the condition (Matt 1:18-19). Joseph was pledged to be married to Mary. The betrothal was a wedding contract that often took a year to consummate with the marriage ceremony. It was more serious than a formal engagement; dowries were exchanged, houses were built, and employment was established before the ceremony. But before the wedding, Mary came to Joseph with the story of an angelic visit and being pregnant with God’s child. Joseph kept the Law. For such a case, the Law gave two choices: either stone her to death (Deut 22:20-24) or divorce her (Deut 24:1-4). In most of these cases, the reaction was instantaneous. But Joseph paused and processed the news instead, trying to find the best way forward. Stoning was off the table because he loved her and viewed her with compassion. Despite the apparent “sin,” Joseph loved Mary and could not stomach the execution of capital punishment.
- Love removes shame and disgrace (1:19). Not only did Joseph refuse to stone her, but he also sought to minimize the impact of the second option–divorce. In most cases, the issuance of the bill of divorce was meant to be a public matter. But Joseph proposed for it to be done quietly, without drawing any shameful attention to Mary. If it was quiet, then she could leave and go far away from the judgment of the townsfolk. Even in this choice, Joseph demonstrated his love for Mary; he did not want to see her disgraced or shamed, even despite being pregnant with a child that wasn’t his!
- Love calls for patience before action (1:20). Before Joseph acted on anything, he took the night to sleep on it. This again demonstrated his love, for he was not eager to do anything harsh toward Mary despite how she wronged him. When we act swiftly in anger, we become the judge and cannot hear a different way. But when we are wronged, if we take it to God, we open our hearts to allow God to speak. God is not willing for any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love (Psalm 103:8).
- Love listens to and values God’s opinion (1:20-21). Because of the first three actions, Joseph opened himself to hear from God. The same angel that came to Mary also appeared to him, declaring that Mary was telling the truth. What if Joseph had acted rashly? But because he was filled with love, he could hear God speak and act on God’s counsel. In so doing, Joseph had the opportunity to share in the miracle of Christmas.
- Love delivers people from sin (1:21-23). God demonstrated his love by sending Jesus to deliver humanity from sin. But Joseph demonstrated the first act of redemption by marrying Mary. God does not approve of sin, but he does give the opportunity to redeem from sin and repentance. Joseph redeemed Mary by his actions, even taking the scandalous accusations upon himself to protect her. Love does not allow people to remain in their sin but provides a path forward to redemption.
- Love is obedient (1:24-25). Joseph showed God his love by obeying the angelic command. Joseph showed Mary his love by obeying God’s Word, taking her as his wife. Joseph showed Jesus his love by obeying God’s Word and raising him as his earthly father. Joseph showed the world his love by obedience. We show love by obedience.
Joseph was a simple human like you and me, yet his capacity for God’s love changed the world. Imagine what we could do if we loved Joseph!
Questions for Reflection
1) Who is difficult to love? Why are they difficult to love?
2) Which comes easier–judgment or compassion? Why?
3) How does anger make it difficult to love?
4) When you are wounded and hurt, do you go to God first? Why or why not?
5) How can you help redeem one you love from their sins?
This Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Advent, and we will light the candle of Peace. Pastor Ryan will preach the sermon “Unexpected Peace,” based on Luke 2:1-7. How can we receive peace? How did God demonstrate peace during trials? Come or tune in on Sunday to find out.
Sunday evening is the Candlelight & Communion Christmas Eve service. We will light the Christ candle. Come join us in the carols of the season and hear the Christmas story from various perspectives. Pastor Ryan will share a short devotional called “Worship Christ the Lord,” based on Luke 2:8-20.
Daily Bible Readings for December 19 – January 1
December 19: John 13:34-35 What does this passage teach us about love?
December 20: Isaiah 53:1-12 What does this passage teach us about love?
December 21: Matthew 22:34-40 What does this passage teach us about love?
December 22: Luke 10:25-37 What does this passage teach us about love?
December 23: 1 John 4:7-21 What does this passage teach us about love?
December 24: Isaiah 26:1-4 What does this passage teach us about peace?
December 25: Isaiah 9:1-7 What does this passage teach us about peace?
December 26: Numbers 6:22-26 What does this passage teach us about peace?
December 27: Colossians 3:12-17 What does this passage teach us about peace?
December 28: 1 Peter 3:8-12 What does this passage teach us about peace?
December 29: Romans 8:1-11 What does this passage teach us about peace?
December 30: John 14:27 What does this passage teach us about peace?
December 31: John 1:35-42 Why did Andrew choose to follow Jesus?
January 1: Genesis 2:1-3 What does this passage teach us about God?
This Week’s Events:
Thursday, December 21–Leadership Team Meeting, 7 pm
Thursday, December 21–Leadership Reorganization Meeting, 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 24–Christmas Eve @ 11 pm
Monday, December 25 – Saturday, December 30–Office Closed
If you are a newer attendee at Beaver Creek, please call the office with your birthday or leave a note in the offering plate. We don’t want to miss anyone.
Beaver Creek has updated its social media page. Please follow and share so many people can see what is happening at Beaver Creek! You can find the pages as follows:
Misti has placed a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board to assist with the backpacks. If you are willing to help, please sign up this week!
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
We are in need of both worship leaders and children’s storytellers. Contact Alice Over, Phyllis Simmons (worship leading), or Joscelin Cooper (children’s story) if you want to serve.
CHILDREN’S CHURCH & NURSERY
Children’s Church WILL NOT meet this Sunday, December 24. It will resume on Sunday, December 31.
The Christian Education Team is looking for six to eight volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School and church hours. There will be a signup sheet in the back. If you would be willing to volunteer to allow our families to participate in worship, please let one of the members of Christian Education know (Theresa Eckard, Scott McAvoy, Becky Whitmore), or sign up on the signup sheet!
Sight & Sound Interest
The Fidelis class is looking at sponsoring a church-wide trip to Sight & Sound in 2024. But before the class can investigate bus prices and total cost, we want to gauge the genuine interest in the church. We have had several expressions of interest and are trying to find the best package for us as a church body. If you want to be considered for this one-day event next year, please get in touch with the office or inform Pastor Ryan in the next few weeks.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe to the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Place in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller & Carolyn Wine
Keep Evy Kaye’s friend Mary Beth in your prayers as she is wrestling with cancer.
Keep also John Jordan’s sister in your prayers. She was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Eddie Baker (health)
Mary Batterman (health)
Sandy Bennington (health)
Joe Berry (health)
Terri Burkholder (health)
Norma Cunningham (recovery)
Patsy Dastoli (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Natalie Dodge (health)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Bob Hess (health)
Christy Lazer (health)
Ruth Luce (health)
Mark Martin (health)
Meeta McNett (health)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Betty Miller (health)
Norlen Miller (hospital)
Mary G Miller (health)
Mary M Miller (health)
Savannah Miller (health)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Kenny Wheelbarger (recovery)
Whitmore family (house)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Cindy Wittig (health)
Shelvy Wittig (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek Church