Fourth Sunday of Advent

Good morning!  We have made it to the Fourth Sunday of Advent. We are so close now!!

Today’s scripture:

Matthew 1:18-25 (The Message)

The Birth of Jesus

18-19 The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

24-25 Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

While Luke starts the story with Elizabeth and Zechariah, Matthew begins the story with lineage and then focuses in on Joseph.  I like what Frederick Buechner says about this….

“You can hardly blame Joseph for considering divorce when he discovered that, through no fault of his, Mary was pregnant. Nevertheless, when it was explained to him, he took it like a man, and all was forgiven. As soon as he got word in a dream that King Herod was planning to massacre all male babies in the neighborhood in hopes that the newborn Messiah would be one of them, he took the child and Mary and beat it to Egypt, where he had the good sense to remain till he found Herod’s name in the obituary column. Later on, when they lost Jesus in Jerusalem at the age of twelve, Joseph was as nervous a wreck over it as Mary and every bit as delighted once the boy was found.

When Matthew in his Gospel records Jesus’ genealogy, he traces it back through his mother’s line in deference to the doctrine that the one whose son Jesus was was God. When Luke records it, on the other hand, although he was no less a true believer, he makes no bones about listing Joseph as the father of Jesus and tracing the line back through him.

Since Jesus himself never seems to have worried much about theology, it is hard not to believe that, for auld lang syne, he would have preferred Luke’s version.”

Joseph is in a tough spot. I don’t usually focus in on Joseph. I am usually pretty eager to see what Mary is up to.  But really, Joseph is a pretty major player in all of this. We don’t know much about him but we do know he sticks around to see where God will lead him.  Perhaps we have some stuff to learn with Joseph. I can only imagine the anxiety he holds, the limbo he lives in, and the anger or sadness he must feel when he learns about what is going on with Mary.

What can we learn from Joseph this morning?

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