Trust the Navigator!

Matthew 1:18-25

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 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.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

 

Are we there yet?  On this Advent Journey, some have chosen to stay behind.  Those who have chosen to come have been touched with the idea of HOPE at the end of the journey. The second week in Advent we spent time realizing that the journey is not easy.  There are so many distractions and wrong turns and the only way to survive is with true PEACE. Last week on our journey, we stop and fill our tanks.  With what do we fill our tanks?  JOY! This is the JOY that Christ is with us every step of the way. 

 

Matthew’s version of the birth of our Savior mentions no journey to Bethlehem, no shepherds and no manger. Matthew is concerned with Joseph. Rev. Daniel Clark, a Vicar in an Episcopal Church, observed: Joseph is the blue collar Bible character; a quiet, humble and hard-working person that Scripture overlooks! Matthew paints a picture of the utter normalcy of the Holy family. This means, of course, he tells us about the confusion and the frailty of the family dynamic! We have – each of us – experienced upheavals, maybe not a virgin birth but still upheaval all the same!

 

Matthew calls Joseph a righteous person. There is a backstory in Matthew 1. Joseph and Mary are part of a long account. You should read before Christmas Eve. It will give perspective of Joseph and Mary … who they are in the genealogy, the genesis of Jesus the Christ, who is the son of David and son of Abraham and Mary and Joseph took part in that. More of that on Christmas Eve. For now, understand that Joseph was grafted into a line of righteous people of God. And now he must make a decision.

 

It is within Joseph’s rights to disown Mary, to make her a spectacle, to cast her out. She could be stoned for being with child without a husband.  But that wouldn’t be true to Joseph’s character and God knew that. He resolves to divorce her quietly. In his righteousness, his legacy, he follows the pull of against the norm. Joseph hears the call of something deeply counter-cultural. Then he goes to bed.

 

And he dreams of an angel who tells him: For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. Listen, the virgin shall conceive a child! She shall give birth to a Son and he shall be called ‘Immanuel’ meaning “God is with us.” He wakes up and, without any noted hesitation, does as the angel commanded him to do and brings Mary into his home.

 

Like Joseph, in your life, when everything is pointing to disaster or choices that don’t seem like choices at all, God is working His kingdom work in us! Joseph said, “Yes.” Let that give you strength to remain faithful no matter what! Will you recognize Immanuel, God with us?  Will you allow God to grow your heart to strive to give love that makes no sense? Imagine what that would look like! We can be the sign of Jesus…we can be His love!

 

In the end, it is our capacity to love and be loved that is most important in our lives! In these final days before Christmas, underneath it all, may you hear the love that God is calling you to. And may it strengthen you to follow love’s call with joy and purpose, letting go of everything else.

 

This week, just days before that glorious Christmas Day where we honor the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we journey in LOVE!

 

Happy “Fourth Week of Advent!”   

I just love being your pastor!   Joy, joy – Pastor Alexis


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