But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1
The Gospel lesson for the Fourth Sunday in Advent tells us about the courage of Joseph and the protection he gave to a pregnant young woman and the child she would soon bring into the world: Jesus, the Messiah. In other Gospel lessons that relate the birth of the Messiah we learn more about Mary, also a person of great courage and compassion, who cared for the plight of her people under Roman domination.
Both Joseph and Mary listened to God’s message to them, a message asking them to be agents of God’s succor to poor and vulnerable people by bringing Jesus into the world and nurturing him physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Mary said “Yes” to God’s messenger angel, and Joseph heard an angel speak to him in a dream and changed his course of action. The birth of Jesus came about because Joseph and Mary responded to God’s call.
God continues to speak, and in this season of Advent and as we approach nearer and nearer to the Feast of the Incarnation, it is by listening to these great Gospel stories of faith that we may hear God speak to us now. This year I’d like to ask you to join me in following the lead of Joseph and Mary by offering protection and care to the children and all the vulnerable people of Aleppo, Syria, and to Syrian refugees. Here are some ways you and I can help the children of Aleppo and the children who are refugees, and their parents:
You can advocate with our United States lawmakers and the President. Call and deliver a message that urges a resolution to the crisis and an end to the bloodshed. Let them know you want our government to do more than “condemn the violence.” I suggest you urge robust negotiations and not military intervention. Below are some key telephone numbers:
White House (202) 456-1111
Speaker Ryan (202) 225-3031
House Minority Leader Pelosi (202) 225-4965
Senate Majority Leader McConnell (606) 864-2026
Senate Minority Leader Schumer (202) 224-6542
For advocacy for Syrian refugees I suggest you use the resources of our own Episcopal Public Policy Network. This link will take you to their webpage on advocacy for refugees.
Please also join me in donating to help Syrian children. I’m donating through UNICEF this Christmas. UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, has been helping children worldwide for seventy years. UNICEF has 200 people working on the ground in Syria. Click here to go to the UNICEF donate page to help children in Syria.
Let us be like those courageous young parents so many years ago who brought the Christ child into the world, whose grace and power continue to transform the world God made and loves.
Loving God, you continue to speak to us through the myriad elements of the beautiful world you have made. May we heed your call to care for the vulnerable in the world and the vulnerabilities in our own hearts. May we find the birth of hope within us and among us once again, by your Grace. Through Him who came among us in great humility and comes again to bring justice and truth. Amen.