Please to have my friend, Janice, share her thoughts on Advent with us today. She’s a sometimes-but-rarely blogger and an everyday, all-the-time, servant of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful to call her friend.
Advent. It truly is my favorite season of the year. I love a lot of things about Christmas but it’s the celebration of Advent I look forward to each year. I love the preparation of our church, our family, our own hearts for the arrival of the Christ Child. I think it has to do with the retelling of stories so wondrous, so beloved, so holy and yet while we are reminiscing through the Angels announcement to Mary, of Joseph thinking to put her away privately, of the Shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night, of a baby laid in a manger who came to save the world, we find new insights, new truths that draw us back into the wonder of “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 KJV) That was the night that changed everything. When Jesus came nothing was ever the same and not just for the people who were a part of this miracle. His birth set things in motion that continue to move and change people who change the world.
Sunday I preached a sermon about Joseph and how his life was changed by God’s decision that his beloved Mary would be the mother of the Savior of the world. Can you imagine how that rocked Joseph’s world? Is she unfaithful? Crazy? Or possibly telling the truth?? It’s one thing for your girlfriend to tell you she’s pregnant but to know it’s not yours and then for her to say it was conceived of the Holy Spirit…well that’s a lot to wrap your head around. It couldn’t have been easy for Joseph to look at Mary and make the right decision. This was the woman he loved. The woman he was pledged to marry. This pregnancy and baby wasn’t going to disappear. People were going to know. He obviously cared deeply for Mary as he made a decision to divorce her quietly. Even as he came to terms with that decision God intervened and changed the direction Joseph’s life would take, and as a result, Mary’s.
Sometimes we think that it is just a good story. We forget these are real people with real lives, real emotions, real difficult situations. Maybe that’s another reason that I love this time of the year. It not only reminds me of the stories but of the realness of what happened. I’m reminded of how hard it would have been to be a young girl pledged to be but not married and pregnant in that day. I’m reminded of the side-eyed glances that must have come Joseph’s way as he stood beside this woman knowing that the baby she carried was not his. I’m sure they were gossiped about, judged and condemned. I think of the night Jesus was born – the long trip to Bethlehem and finding only a stable to sleep in. How afraid this young couple must have been when they realized that tonight this baby was coming into the world ready or not. I can imagine Mary’s tears as she experienced her first complete failure as a mother – her child born in a room for animals with nowhere to sleep but a manger. It makes for a great story but as a mother I can’t even imagine.
As I picture the events that are a part of the Christmas story not one of them is a nice, neat package tied up with a bow. There is not one part that unfolds in a way that is expected. But that is what makes it so believable. I mean really if someone was making this up don’t you think the story would be prettier? It’s the messiness that makes me sure this is more than just a good story.