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Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

Proclaim Peace - December 17th

Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph's peace is the kind you have to work for. You have to cling to it, strive for it, hold onto it, sometimes even fight for it. That doesn't sound much like peace at sounds like a battle zone and we hardly associate that with peace. But that's kind of the point. We have to fight for peace because fear is always there ready to take control ready to take over, and if we want peace instead, we have to force fear out of the way.

Think about Joseph. He was married to Mary...legally bound, but not yet living together or

actually *together* and she got pregnant. She told him before he heard it from someone else. He assumed what was logical, that she had cheated, had an affair, and was pregnant with someone else's baby. And so he thought through his options. He could out her—telling everyone what she'd done, which would likely get her stoned to death. Or he could divorce her quietly. He was a good and righteous man, which one would think would mean he would tout the law, but instead, he chose grace—ready to divorce her quietly and spare her life. It wouldn't be easy for her after that, but it would be better than the alternative. And then an angel came to him and told him not to fear, that things would be alright, that God was actually a part of this.

All too often, I think we hear that an angel came and assume that took away the stress; and since we know things turned out as Mary and the angel said, that Joseph must have been fine all along the way. But I imagine it was actually a very stressful 9 months. How could he really believe Mary? What if he had only dreamed the angel? What if it wasn't real and Mary had cheated on him? He would be made a fool. He would shame his whole family. How could he ever redeem himself and his family from that? What would he do with Mary then? He wouldn't be able to work or provide for himself unless of course, he did make it known that Mary was a liar and an adulteress, and then they'd stone her, but what would happen with the baby? Could he raise a baby? Would his mom take the baby? or his sister? or his cousin? It would all be too much!

I can imagine Joseph thinking, this is not what I signed up for! And probably thinking that daily. But really, what in life is exactly what we anticipated and signed up for? College isn't. Marriage isn't. Work isn't. Having kids isn't. Helping our parents as they age isn't. Learning a new trade after 20 years in the last one isn't. Nothing really is what we thought it would be. And so we are then faced with a choice—do we fret about what could have been or should have been or we thought it would be? Or do we live in what is? We can choose to worry or we can choose to be present in the moment and ride the wave.
Now that's much easier said than done, right? Because when things get turned on their head, it's not peace that saddles up beside us. It's fear and anxiety. It's doubt. It's the "what if's". When life is chaotic and crazy and far from the expected, fear is ready to be our new best friend. And as the most eager companion for our journey, we can certainly let fear stay. It seems easier than fighting it off. But fear doesn't have to be our companion. Peace can be. But, ironically, if we choose peace, it's rarely a peaceful process, since fear keeps insisting it should stay. Choosing peace means looking for it daily. It means pushing back the anxious thoughts and saying instead, "I choose peace."
Joseph's peace is one you dig around for and pick up daily. It's the one that's found in the repetition of the psalms. Or reciting the Lord's prayer. It's the peace that's found in music that calms our spirits and reminds us of God's goodness. It's often the peace that's repeated as a mantra, convincing ourselves as much as we're convincing the world, "I choose peace. I choose peace. I choose peace." Saying it until we're believing it. And believing in it until we feel it.
This peace is hard won. But it's worth it. For it is the peace of God. Fear comes easily, naturally and readily even, but it isn't the work of God. Fear is not a gift. It's not something we should seek after. Instead, we are invited to seek after the things of God here on earth and that includes the perfect peace that passes all understanding. And that comes only from the Lord. Now, for some of us, sometimes, that peace comes like a wave crashing over us or a warm blanket wrapped around us. Gentle and smooth and a nice sweet answer to prayer. But for most of us, it's like fighting for the one warm blanket on a cold night. (demonstrate fighting for the blankets in the bed—-"it's mine, it's mine, it's mine."—I choose to be covered in peace. I choose to be covered in peace.) We could easily give up, but we wouldn't have the same sense of serenity. If we want the peace, we have to fight for it!

But we also have to know we aren't in the fight alone, God is ready to fight with us. God is also ready to be our best friend, ready to whisper affirmations and encouragement along the way. God goes through the hard times, the upside down times, the not-what-they-should-have-been-times, so that we can know there is something better in our future. And so we know we aren't alone in our trials.
And the greatest way God conveys that to us is through God's Son Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. Through the cross Christ says, you're not alone. I'm willing to fight for you, with you, alongside you. I know how much it hurts—-rejection, betrayal, loneliness, fear, and loss—-I've been through all those things, and so when I say I'll go through those things with you, you can also know that I've felt what you've felt. I've feared what you've feared and I've made it to the other side. There is another side.
If we need a reminder that we aren't going to be left in the mess, look to the cross....look to the body and blood of Jesus Christ and be encouraged, for you are not alone, you are not forgotten or forsaken, and there is a peace that can beat out your fear and that comes from Christ our Lord, and for that we give thanks. Amen.

Current Church News

  • Christmas Eve Services - Dec 24, 2018

    4:00 PM Family Christmas Eve. This service is especially designed for wiggly, giggly children and is intentionally kept shorter. It will include music by Children's bell choir and leadership from children.

    7:00 PM Traditional Christmas Eve. This service includes music from Choir and Bell Choirs, plus Holy Communion and the Candlelight Ceremony. Child care is provided.

Get Directions

Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary . William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

Church Mission

The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...