Matthew 1: 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.”
In just a few days we will gather on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.
We will gather and sing songs and we will read Scripture and hopefully I will provide a message worthy of the birth of our Lord.
It will be a great joy to sing Away in the Manger or Hark, the Herald Angels Sing or Silent Night!
We will depart from church and I pray we are all able to be with family and/or friends who give us joy.
I pray this Christmas is free from spiritual clutter, emotional chaos, and free from worry and anxiety.
Here’s the deal though: leading up to the birth of Jesus was anything but easy.
Our Scripture reading today reminds us the extent to which Mary and Joseph were in the midst of conflict.
Mary was thrust into a life changing situation at a very young age. She handled it with so much grace and trust but I can only imagine the anticipation she felt heading towards the night of Jesus birth.
Joseph too was propelled into a situation that many of us would throw up our hands and say “nope, not worth it.” Our Scripture reading tells that Joseph was working to divorce her quietly – not just for her sake but for his own.
It wouldn’t get any easier for the two either.
They would arrive in town at a time that couldn’t be any worse. No vacancy signs all across town. Some scholars tell of Jesus being born in a cave and other’s in the bottom part of a house where the animals were kept. Not an ideal situation for a weary mom and dad who travelled so far and were no doubt exhausted.
Still it wouldn’t get any easier after the birth – even as many came to proclaim the greatest gift. In the background a maniac was plotting to have all children under two murdered so as to desperately attempt to prevent Jesus from growing up. As a result, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee the only place they knew in order to protect their son.
We sometimes forget the extent to which Joseph and Mary endured to give birth to Jesus. It wasn’t easy physically, socially, or emotionally. Spiritually though, they were blessed. They knew exactly why they were going through so many trials. They understood that Jesus was the key to all our salvation.
This Christmas some of you are going through trials, hardships, and pain. Some of us are struggling with health concerns, addiction, spiritual struggles, financial struggles, and working through the pain of loss. I know I am. I miss my mom more today than I have all the days since she died this summer.
Advent and Christmas is a reminder that there is hope. There is also love. There is also peace. There is also Joy! There is hope, love, peace, and joy – even in the midst of hardship and challenge; especially in the midst of those challenges.
I pray you are all taking care of yourself this Advent season. Setting boundaries to your time and energy. Self-care is so important this time of year. You can’t do everything nor should you try. Listen to your body and your mind and know when to step back from engaging. Sleep, exercise, drink lots of water, and most importantly spend time with God. Fill up your tank with Scripture, prayer time meditation, being in community with each other – lifting each other up and praying for each other.
Soon we will proclaim Joy to the World the Lord has come! For you and for me.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
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