Prepare to listen as light 3 purple and pink candles. ‘Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!’ (Psalm 97:12)
Prayerfully Read Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 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.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
When Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy he chose to quietly break off the engagement instead of publicly stoning her as the law stated. He couldn’t take on fathering a child that wasn’t his own and neither could he harm Mary. Imagine his amazement when, in a dream, an angel gave him responsibility for this child. He was to name him (and thus claim him as his own), ‘Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ The angel added a second name, ‘They shall name him Emmanuel,’ God with us. They, whoever they are, would see God in Mary’s illegitimate son.
The dream faded and Joseph woke up. Did he wonder: Who am I, a simple carpenter, to raise the savior of the world, God-with-us? Obedience would be difficult and change his life forever, but whatever he thought or felt, without hesitation or complaint, he ‘did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.’ He took Mary as his wife and waited with her for her son, whom he’d name Jesus. Many others, down through the ages would name him Emmanuel.
Put yourself in Joseph’s place, charged with raising the son who is redeemer and God-with-us. How might you feel?
Respond to Jesus
In the glitz of Christmas plans, Jesus we often forget that your coming initially brought suffering to many people, especially Mary and Joseph. Their obedience transformed them. Help me today to embrace the suffering with obedience so that I too may live a transformed life. To the praise of your glory, Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, obedient despite the difficulties.