Contributed by Seth Moland Kovash, Palatine, IL


Warm-up Question

What is the best thing about relationships with family and friends?

You Are Not Alone

A couple and four children were stranded for two days in below-zero weather in the mountains of Nevada recently. Eventually they were found, all safe, staying warm in their overturned Jeep and were brought home. You can read about their ordeal and rescue here: The state’s search-and-rescue coordinator Paul Burke said “They stayed together and that was the key that allowed them to live through this experience.”

The family took care of one another, heating rocks in a campfire they were able to make and using the heated rocks to stay warm inside the vehicle. This ingenuity, and sharing one another’s warmth, allowed the couple and the children (ages 3-10) to survive even as temperatures got to 16 below zero.


Discussion Questions

  •  What would you do if you were stranded and could not call for help?
  • What ways can you prepare for this kind of situation to help you get through it?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, December 22. 1013 (Fourth Sunday of Advent)

Isaiah 7:10-16

Romans 1:1-7

Matthew 1:18-25

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

photo-editThe message of Christmas is that Jesus has come. In today’s Gospel reading we hear the announcement of Jesus’ impending birth by an angel to Joseph, according to Matthew 1:18-25. In this promise from the angel, God tells Joseph to name the boy Emmanuel which means “God is with us.” That is what Christmas is all about: God is with us. We are not alone. We are not stuck here without any help, without any support, without any love. God is with us.

It is significant that God came to the world in the form of a baby who had earthly parents to care for him, Mary and Joseph. Just as in the family that survived the ordeal in Nevada this year, Joseph was not Jesus’ biological son. But people care for one another. People provide community for one another. And great things happen.

Discussion Questions

  •  When do you most need to feel the presence of God? When do you need to be reminded that Emmanuel means “God is with us?”
  • Who do you know that needs to be reminded? How can you be the presence of God for them?

Activity Suggestion

Bring Christmas cookies to a local nursing home or hospital. Most of all, bring yourselves so that people are not alone.

Closing Prayer

Good and gracious God, we thank you for sending Jesus to be Emmanuel for us. We thank you for being part of our lives so that we are never alone. Amen.