Advent Devotional: December 19
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 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.
But after he had considered 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 home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
– Matthew 1:18-25
Joseph has long been one of my biblical favorites. He's so unassuming and faithful. He is essentially a foster or adoptive father to Jesus. Let's marinate on that for a moment. Being the adoptive father to the Son of God. Can you imagine the weight of that? Not a day goes by that I don't make a parenting mistake, and I'm just attempting to raise your average three-year-old, not the Savior of the world. Joseph also had to make the leap over several mental hurdles just to follow through with his engagement and eventual marriage to a pregnant Mary, a woman who was not carrying his child. The more I think about it, the more I really love and respect Joseph. He's an example of everything I want to be as a person of faith.
I admittedly struggle with the mysticism of our Christian faith from time to time. I question why bad things happen to my friends and family, why there is so much suffering in our world, why we all have to die, and why we have to go on living without those we love. I get angry and frustrated with God but I think those are normal human emotions in any relationship worth having.
Even though I have fear and doubt, I've been trying to be more like Joseph and listen more to my inner angel, watching for signs of God in my daily life. I don't think it's coincidence that in this year, I've needed God more than ever and the doors have opened at our church for me to be involved in new ways – getting more connected to the other members of our community. I regularly give thanks for the relationships we formed on the All Church Mission Trip at Camp Gilmont this summer. I firmly believe that was God at work for my family during this year. I know that we came back changed and more faithful. Maybe it was our visit from the angel of the Lord reminding us to live more like Joseph.
Joseph's lineage has been traced back to King David and is mentioned twice in one of my favorite Christmas carols, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Thou Rod of Jesse, Thou Key of David)." When we sing it, I think of Joseph: his faith, his choice, his ability to be the earthly father to Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.
Yours in Christ,
Jen Bernardi, NorthPark Elder