The Greatest Gift
Reading Selection for December 23rd
“God with Us”
Matthew 1:18 – 21 (NLT) – “18This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’”
In yesterday’s post I discussed how saying ‘Yes’ to God, may be simple, but isn’t always easy. Making room for God doesn’t always mean a nice and tidy story. Opening yourself up to the Divine and being willing for God to birth new and wonderful things in life can be extremely messy and painful. And not just for you.
In this story of Mary the mother of Jesus, there’s a completely innocent bystander—Joseph. She said ‘Yes’ to God after she’d already said ‘Yes’ to Joseph. But this story isn’t just about God in Flesh coming through a woman for His people. He had handpicked Joseph too. He was coming for Joseph.
Remember those verses in this series that demonstrated just how God had very specifically chosen the lineage of Christ? Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Rahab, Ruth, David—this line of foreigners, liars, cheaters, prostitutes and adulterers. Joseph was the end of the line before Jesus. He was chosen by God to care for the one God was coming through.
Chosen by God, and he almost said no.
The verses above tell us that Joseph was a good man. He was going to obey the Law and put away his pregnant-out-of-wedlock fiancée, but he wasn’t going to humiliate her before their entire community. He was going to break things off quietly. He was going to say no because that’s what right, proper religious folk in his day would do. Proper religious people of God.
But then an angel appeared to him and gave him a different way of looking at things. The angel reminded him of who he was, a man of royal blood, a son of David, a descendant of kings. He spoke straight to the concern on Joseph’s mind—fear. Scripture doesn’t tell us, but I believe if fear is the emotion the angel addressed it’s the emotion that was overwhelming Joseph.
Fear caused him to almost say no to Jesus, the God of his Salvation. Fear always causes us to miss God with Us. But God with Us, Perfect Love, casts aside all fear. But we must say yes to Love, Himself.
What about us? In this season of Advent, in this every single day-ness of Advent, can we lay aside our right, religious perspective and see how God might be birthing Life right here in new and unexpected ways? Is the fear of punishment going to keep us from God with Us? Is the wrongness of our circumstances going to cause us to remain blind to the Righteousness that comes for us in every moment?
All is grace. Every moment is Advent.