The Hope Collective Advent Guide
Peace | Week 2 | Day 12
This 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. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As 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. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Now Joseph and Mary were married. In the culture of the day, the marriage was done; the ceremony was over. All that remained was the consummation of it. In everyone’s eyes, Mary was Joseph’s wife. But she had just told him that she was pregnant. And since everyone knew that the consummation had not taken place (it, too, required a ceremony), Joseph was in great turmoil. His only solution was to divorce Mary as quietly as possible.
Joseph’s story is pretty relevant to us, isn’t it? You might be thinking: That’s me—I’m thinking about divorce this Christmas. Maybe you’re thinking about a divorce that’s already happened or is about to happen or that seems likely down the road. Such thoughts remind us of close relationships now shattered and lying all in pieces. You’ve got a heavy heart.
The fact that Christmas is a family time makes it worse, doesn’t it? When a family with broken relationships gathers to celebrate, it can be really difficult. A lot of people dread Christmas for that very reason. A lot of people have heavy hearts, and they’re tossing and turning as the holidays approach. Maybe you’re living next door to a Joseph. Maybe you work with one.
In Matthew 1, God tells Joseph, “Take Mary as your wife. Don’t be afraid to commit yourself to this marriage.” Sometimes, of course, it may already be too late for a marriage. But perhaps God is talking to us, giving us a new plan of action, one that we need to consider seriously. When Mary told Joseph that she was pregnant, it was a bolt out of the blue. It didn’t fit into any of Joseph’s plans for their life together. And it was unlike any situation he had ever encountered.
But Joseph wanted to do the right thing. And, difficult as it was, he did what God told him to do. He took this pregnant girl to be his wife and set on an Adventure that the two of them would share. They would have to trust God through all the uncertainty and the questions from people who knew them. Joseph did an incredible thing: He welcomed the Christ child before the child was even born. While Christ was being formed within Mary, Joseph made a secure place for the incarnate Son of God to grow up in this world. He welcomed Jesus into an intact, stable family—not a wealthy or prestigious family, but a family under God’s care and guidance.
Likewise, as we welcome the Christ child into the shambles of our everyday existence, God will help us as we go. Joseph was a believing man, and even believing people can have messy relationships. But the Christ child waits to be welcomed in, where He can grow in our lives and change us into God’s true children.
– Stuart and Jill Briscoe, Meet Him at the Manger, org. Used with permission.
Lord, in this Advent season I will look to you and trust you in all things, regardless of the difficulties that come my way. Help me to welcome you into all my relationships, especially the fragile ones. May your peace guard my heart and my mind. Amen.
Be a peacemaker. Take a step toward reconciliation today.
Give a compliment. Don’t just think it. Say it.
Send cards to sick children who are fighting serious illnesses and want to receive mail.
Send mail to:
Cards for Hospitalized Kids
7290 W. Devon
Chicago, IL 60631
Parents, share about a particularly special or unique Christmas that you experienced as a child.