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They shall call his name Justice

by davesandel on December 18th, 2021

Saturday, December 18, 2021                                    (today’s lectionary)

They shall call his name Justice

This is how the birth of Jesus came about.

Matthew cuts to the chase. First he lists 42 generations from Abraham to Joseph, then he describes the strange, wholly unacceptable circumstances of Jesus’ birth. This baby does not come into the world on a royal purple cloud, worshipped by all. Coochee, coochee, awwww, so cute!

Mary was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph decided to divorce her quietly. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.

Joseph wanted to believe Mary. But what she said could not be true! Could it? Joseph was not a skeptic at heart, not a rabbi or theologian or something.

When we sleep our brain’s alpha waves wane and skepticism disappears.

It is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

So there, Joseph. Wake up and take this sweet, pregnant virgin named Mary into your arms. Stand up for her before her parents and everyone else.

And Joseph did.

Joseph doesn’t know it, of course, but in Zechariah’s vision and his own dream, the angel Gabriel requires him also to call his son an unexpected name. John and Jesus will soon be born into the world, at nearly the same time, messenger and Message, cousins, kinsmen, lovers of God.

They both grow up in quiet semi-poverty, in devout households, looking with everyone around them to the glory days of the future, when the Messiah will lead them up the mountain of Zion into vineyards and the land of plenty. Roman soldiers will darken their horizons no longer. God’s people will at last receive the redemption and reward that God has planned for them since they were cast out of the Garden of Eden.

Behold, the days are coming! In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: “The Lord our justice.”

I have been listening to Unoffendable by Brant Hansen. Our friends Ron and Kathy, in Champaign, are Brant’s in-laws. Their grandchild and Brant’s son is named Justice. Of course Brant and Carolyn read these verses from Psalm 72 before they chose his name. Of course they wondered if they were being too bold.

Or perhaps not. Maybe they too had a dream. Did Brant or Carolyn hear Gabriel call out their own son’s name? Nothing is impossible with God. Because this is true, our lives are more exciting and unpredictable than a barrel of monkeys. Turn that barrel over and watch them run.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.

Tomorrow is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Our focus on the second coming of Christ is shifting to the baby. Very God of Very God, whose name shall be called JUSTICE, whose name shall be called Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace is about to be called … Jesus.

The stars in the sky look down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

 (Jeremiah 23, Psalm 72, Matthew 1)

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