Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, which is always the last Sunday before Christmas. We add one more candle to the Advent Wreath to show that the Light of Christ continues to approach and to fill us who are empty. I was amazed how much more light my own Advent Wreath at home added when I added the Third candle last week and now with the Fourth candle lit.
Today we read from the prophet Isaiah the source of Matthew's famous "A virgin shall conceive and bear a son" prophesy. Turns out Mathhew took it out of context. The doesn't mean it isn't true or anything, but what Isaiah was actually doing was announcing a sign from God to King Ahaz of Judah, to assure him that God was still present with the people even during the impending doom of the coming Assyrian invasion. Matthew liked to cite "fullllment passages," when he would say something like "this was to fulfill what was promised by so-and-so." He does that a lot and they're usually right on the money, but not in this case.
The opening of Paul's Letter to the Romans cites the fact the Jesus was a member of the Davidic royal line, and the Gospel passage relates the dream of Joseph when he was told by an angel not to divorce Mary because her child is "from the Holy Spirit." In Jewish law, Joseph would have had every right to divorce her if she had actually been unfaithful. Matthew likes dreams too - Joseph gets several, and even the wife of Pontius Pilate has one.
So our Advent - our time of preparation for the Coming and the Second Coming - is almost complete. We have but a day or so until we begin the Twelve Days of Christmas. But we are not quite there yet. Let Advent come to its own fulness, that the great Feast of the Nativity may be even more profound and joyous in its meaning for you.
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.