Sermon for the Third Sabbath of Advent
When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant and he wasn’t the father, he did the thing that was expected of him…cover it up. Because pregnancy outside of marriage was considered shameful, the book of Matthew says that Joseph would do the “righteous” thing: send Mary to her home where her parents could hide her and move on to another woman to wed. But God tells Joe in a dream that Mary isn’t just any pregnant teenager. She’s got the divine inside. And the miracle of the story is that he believes the words of his dream and those of his fiancee and stands beside her and endures the shame of having their community all shaking their fingers and heads at them for their illicit behavior.
In Romans 1, Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for all who believe. And that in the gospel a righteousness of God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.
Ironically, many Christians and their churches are ashamed of the gospel. We are adept at encouraging people to cover up the things in their lives that are shameful. We judge people who aren’t able to hide their shame as inferior to those who can cover it up. Rather than believing that the divine is at work in people’s lives, we devalue them as less-than because they have something shameful in their past or present.
The power of the gospel is that there is nothing in us that can bring us shame. No matter who we are or what we do, the reality of God working within us trumps any and all feelings of shame that we carry ourselves or that are put upon us by others.
My desire for all churches and Christians, especially my own congregation and peeps, is that we take a high view of the gospel and not water it down. When we see each other, may we see people pregnant with the work of God in their lives