Scott McKnight is posting a beautiful Advent series at Belief Net
From December 15:
Three acts of advent: adoration, activism, and community-building. I'm struck in the advent stories of how focused they are on the people of God ... and today's text makes that abundantly clear. It comes from Matthew 1:20-21.
20 But after he had considered 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 home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
What do we see here: Joseph is to marry Mary, in spite of what appearances are, because God's Spirit is at work in the conception of the child.
The birth of that baby leads to the naming of that child: his name is to be Yeshua (Joshua, Jesus).Why? Because he will be a Savior of "his people." That people is undoubtedly Israel.
The mission of the Messiah is to redeem, save, restore Israel. The work of God in Jesus is to create the people of God. God's work is ecclesial. We must observe that it does not say "he will save just individuals." It is an ecclesial task.
(Note -- the Dec 11 Advent Video by Chrstine Sine is powerful. We're going to use it! Thanks Steve for directing me to this awesome Advent Resource!)