Fourth Sunday of Advent
Matthew 1:18-25 –
“…and they will call him Emmanuel—which means God with us.”
There are times when we anguish over making the right decision – even the trivial ones, like when to go grocery shopping, can pull us in different directions. Then there are the big ones, like whether to get married or not. I know there are times when I just don’t want to make a decision, which takes me right down the path of procrastination. Can I get an Amen? 
For Joseph, I can only imagine the struggle he went through before deciding to heed the angel’s commandment. Honestly, as strange as it may sound, there are times I do wish an angel would appear and tell me what to do! Joseph’s decision was one that he knew would have a major impact in the life of his bride to be and soon to be born son. 
Our own decisions are rarely made in isolation. Almost all of our choices have the potential to affect others, either positively or negatively. That is part of what makes life so challenging. This is especially true when we are led to make a decision that swims against the tide of popular opinion, when you decide that no matter what the consequences, this is something you must do. 
No doubt, Joseph’s choice was not the safe or popular one. It is a struggle to see any of Joseph’s peers counseling him in the same way the angel did. Yet, as the story goes, Joseph did what the angel commanded and took the risk that could lead to ridicule and even being an outcast in his own hometown. 
We often stand on the precipice of important decisions that could set us up for ridicule and being an outcast in our circle of family and friends. The birth narrative in Matthew, and Joseph’s courage, invite us to take a stand, to do the right thing, even when it is not popular. We are blessed to be able to do so knowing that Emmanuel, God is, indeed, with us. 
May the gift of Emmanuel be your guide and strength as you ponder all of the difficult and thorny decisions you are faced with, throughout this season and the New Year. Now, how about another Amen? 
Rev. Elder Tony Freeman
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