Advent Journal: December 4th

Angel Appears to Joseph in a Dream_Anton Raphael Mengs._c. 1773-1774

Angel Appears to Joseph in a Dream_Anton Raphael Mengs._c. 1773-1774

Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah[i] 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. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 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. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son;[j] and he named him Jesus.

A Change in Plans:

The story of Jesus'  birth is a complex one, but one of the recurring themes is this: God's plans often disrupt and challenge our own plans. Joseph had plans for a normal marriage that would be viewed respectably by his community. Mary giving birth to Jesus changed all of that. And yet, like Mary, when God tells Joseph that there will be a very big change in plans, Joseph "did as the angel of the Lord commanded him." 

We're in the midst of a season of planning. We plan dinners, and parties, and gifts, and surprises. And all of us who plan know quite well that circumstances often change and life jumbles even the most organized of plans. The Christmas story reminds us that that's ok. Although it's tough to have our lives disrupted and to have our expectations disappointed, God calls us to be people who are open to all kinds of things that come our way. We need to be alright with life being beyond our control. That's what I take away from the story of Joseph this year, and I think it's an important reminder for all of us as we plan out our holidays.