Monday, December 14, 2009


I have no text on which to comment tonight. Instead, I’d just like to share what I was thinking about last week and shared during worship yesterday.

Every Advent season my thoughts return to Joseph and Mary, the people. Who were they before the Gabriel came to visit them and change their lives forever? What kind of people were they? Were they serious or lighthearted? Were they popular with others of their own age? Did they have really close friends in Nazareth? Did they ever try to explain to their friends or families that an angel had visited them and revealed that Mary was the one God had chosen to be the mother of the Chosen One, the Anointed One, the Messiah?

Apparently Mary went to Joseph to tell him about the angel’s visit. How else would he have known she was pregnant? There had to have been some time between Mary’s revelation to Joseph and the angel’s visit. Matthew says Joseph took time to consider this. His decision was to quietly divorce her so apparently Joseph couldn’t bring himself to believe her. But what a good man he was! He had no desire to humiliate her any more than she would be humiliated after nine months. What an incredible relief it must have been to this young man when the angel came to reveal all to him!

And how was Mary feeling knowing that her man didn’t believe her? Those days between telling Joseph the truth and seeing him again must have been the most torturous days of her life until Calvary. If Joseph was relieved by the angel’s visit, think what joy flowed out of Mary’s heart the day Joseph showed up at her door and told her the angel had come to him too and they were to get married right away!

Mary was amazed when Gabriel showed up the first time. What a young woman of faith! She said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” God did something to her and she became pregnant. She didn’t ask for it. She wasn’t asked if it was okay with her. God decreed and Mary responded in faith and believed. Then Joseph didn’t believe her. She must have been heartbroken. I would be amazed if she didn’t go home and throw herself on her bed and cry out over and over again, “God! What have you done to me?” The agony preceded the joy.

Again, she had to travel to Bethlehem when she was nine months pregnant. You know what, she was not required by law to go and register. Although women were included in the taxation, their husbands were allowed to register them. So why did she go? Why would she, most likely a middle teenager expecting her first baby, ever leave home, family, and birthing assistance to make an eighty mile trip? And what kind of husband would ask something like that of his young, pregnant wife? I believe these two righteous, God-worshiping young people knew the prophecy that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem and recognized that the registration was God’s providence sending them there to fulfill the prophecy. And again, the agony preceded the joy.

One more thing that seems extremely significant to me at Christmas time. Jesus’ birth is a type of the new birth. Mary didn’t choose to be the mother of the Messiah. She was incapable of making herself the mother of the Messiah. God chose her. God put life into her through the Holy Spirit. God called her to be what he wanted her to be. God protected her and her baby on the long, dangerous journey to Bethlehem and brought forth life.

We are incapable of desiring God or making ourselves Christians. God chose us. He called us to be his children. He put life into us by the Holy Spirit. And he preserves and protects us every day of our lives until Jesus comes in his second advent or until we die and see him face to face!


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