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  1. A sign was given to Ahaz to point him toward the greater sign given in a manger and that Bethlehem’s Messiah is the sign we look forward to seeing in the sky when Jesus, our Emmanuel, comes again.
  2. Matthew makes it abundantly clear that Joseph lacked one thing: Control. He may have been the titular head of his emerging household, but he was clearly not in charge. God was, as God always is.
  3. Therefore, on the cusp of Christmas the message of the fourth week in Advent heightens our anticipation and joy, but also the unvarnished truth about the challenge of following the crucified King.
  4. The waiting of Advent isn’t just for Christmas; it’s for God’s reversal of all sin and evil and his renewal of all things.
  5. Let us rejoice, then, in this grace so that our glory may be the testimony of our conscience wherein we glory not in ourselves but in the Lord (2 Cor. 1:12).
  6. The more awareness we have that we are weak and low and frail and incapable of doing this thing called life, the more perfectly we are positioned to meet the God of grace.
  7. Advent is something of a liturgical speed bump that slows us down lest we rush to Christmas but forget that the baby born in Bethlehem will return with glory and power to judge the living and the dead.
  8. More than that, as children of the One who is the Resurrection and the eternal Life, as children who have themselves been both justified and regenerated, live as if Christ has already reappeared, as if the parousia has happened.
  9. John the Baptist’s question in our text offers you an opportunity to help your congregation take seriously the doubts experienced by those who live by faith.
  10. When the church is a political actor, the gospel doesn’t have the final word.
  11. It is terribly easy to set up our theology as a buffer against the real coming of the Lord and its consequences.
  12. When and how did the church start this season of anticipation?