Thursday, 9 December 2021
Title: An Unexpected Joy
Pr Mark Tan

Matthew 1:18-25

In JRR Tolkien’s book “The Hobbit”, the first chapter is titled “An Unexpected Party”. It introduced Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist who has made a comfortable life for himself by doing what is expected of him: never having any adventures and doing nothing suspicious. This changes when one night, 12 dwarves and a wizard came and had a party at his house. They ate all his food, sang songs, told stories and talked about an adventure they were about to have, to which which Bilbo was invited. Truly everything that night was unexpected. But, what came out of that party was an adventure where Bilbo had to choose to either continue to live the life he’s expected to live or to adventure into the unexpected. He decided for the adventure, and by the end of the book he came back, a person changed, for the better.

In today’s Scripture reading, we see Joseph doing what is expected of a young man: find a woman and marry her. He did, but the twist was that Mary was later pregnant, and she claimed that it was God who made her pregnant! Even at that moment, Joseph was about to do what is expected in a situation like this: divorce the woman, but quietly as he wouldn’t want to have her hurt. That is, until something unexpected happened to him. An angel of the Lord spoke to him, revealing that the baby Mary was carrying is truly Jesus the Messiah and that he should continue to take Mary as his wife. Joseph had a choice to make: either do the expected and accepted practice of divorcing an unfaithful wife, or do the unexpected and continue to marry, care, and love his wife and child who was not his, but God’s. Thankfully, he chose the unexpected. From there he gets the joy to witness “his son” reveal Himself to be the “Son of God”, Messiah, Saviour and Risen Lord!

The Christian faith is a faith of the unexpected. Christmas is all about the unexpected. The King of Kings was born in a manger instead of a palace. God came as a new-born baby instead of Himself. The Saviour was born to be a gift instead of being given gifts.

We then should also embrace the unexpected, and adventure on by faith and not by sight. Only when we do this can we experience the true joy of Christmas.

Questions:

  1. What would you do at the crossroads of faith versus fear?
  2. To whom could you share the unexpected joy of Christmas this year?
  3. What can you do this Christmas that would be totally unexpected of you, in the spirit of Christmas?

Prayer:
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come among us with Your great might. Because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let Your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and forever. Amen.

每日灵粮
2021年12月9日,星期四
题目:出人意外的喜悦
经文:马太福音1: 18-25
作者:陈燕靖传道

翻译:吴淑娉姐妹

JRR托尔金在他的小说《霍比特人历险记》第一章题为"意外的派对"里,介绍了故事主人翁比尔博•巴金斯,因为凭着平日循规蹈矩的作风:从不冒险,也不做任何令人有所怀疑的事,因而为自己打造了优渥舒适的生活。但这情况在一夜之间发生改变;一天晚上, 12个小矮人和一个巫师到他家举行派对,不单吃掉了所有的食物,还引亢高歌、讲故事、谈论他们即将进行的历险旅程,比尔博也受邀参加。当晚发生的事的确令人感到意外,比尔博不得不作出选择:继续过他平淡舒适的生活,或冒险进入意想不到的旅程,结果他决定冒险……书的结尾,他回来了,一个变了的、变得更好的人!

在今天的经文,我们看到约瑟做了一件一般年轻人都会做的事:找一个女孩和她结婚!他做到了,但转折是马利亚竟(在婚前)怀孕了,她声称是上帝使她怀孕了!这时候约瑟正想做一般人意料中的事:与这女孩离婚,但不要扬声,以免马利亚受到伤害。约瑟正这样盘算着,直到又一件意想不到的事情发生在他身上——上帝的使者与他对话,透露马利亚所怀的孩子就是弥赛亚耶稣,并告诉他应该继续娶马利亚为妻,约瑟于是要作出决定:像一般人预期、也是公认的做法,与不忠的妻子离婚;或是选择出乎意料之外的,继续与马利亚结婚,照顾和爱她及那不是他自己的,却是上帝的儿子!感恩的是,他选择了意料之外的,因此他可以得到喜乐——见证到他的儿子如何显示出祂其实是上帝的儿子、弥赛亚、救世主、复活的主!

基督教信仰是出乎意料的信仰,圣诞节也是意想不到的的:万王之王出生在马槽而不是在宫殿;上帝并非以君王的身份,而是以新生儿的身份降临。救主生来就是一份礼物,并不是来收取人送的礼物。

所以我们也应该"拥抱"意想不到的,在信仰历程上,要凭着信心而不是凭着眼目所见而冒险,只有做到这一点,我们才能体会到圣诞节真正的快乐。

问题:

1 在信仰与恐惧的十字路口,你会怎样做?

2 今年庆祝圣诞节那份出人意外的喜悦,你打算和谁分享?

3 本着圣诞节的精神,今年圣诞,你能做些什么令人出乎意料的?

祷告

主啊,激发祢的力量,带着祢的大能来到我们中间,因为我们被深重的罪孽牵制着,借着我们的主耶稣基督,愿祢丰盛的恩典和怜悯迅速帮助拯救我们,愿尊荣、荣耀归与衪,与祢和圣灵同在,从现在直到永远。阿们。