During the first week of Advent, we looked at the hope of the coming Messiah. The faith of the Israelites spanned a few thousand years as they looked forward to the Promised One.
But, like Noah building the ark during a drought, that hope looks foolish when the silence spans centuries. Yet we found a faithful few last week who committed to pave the way for the birth of Jesus. Even in the quiet, God made appropriate preparations.
During this week, we look at the birth announcements. Angelic heralds came to both Joseph and Mary to inform them of their part in God’s plan. Mary responded with an epic song of praise that became known as the Magnificat and is one of the most ancient hymns to be sung by the early church (don’t worry, you’ll read it on Tuesday).
Joseph responded by…um…waking up? The angel came to Joseph in a dream to tell him that Mary was telling him the truth about the Child. The Bible says Joseph woke up and did what he was told.
Imagine you’re Joseph here for a minute. You just got engaged, and your heart races as you plan the wedding feast. Your cheeks hurt from your permanent smile as you look forward to your future with your bride.
And then, those four little words. “We have to talk.” She tells you this cockamamie story about being pregnant with God. Tears spill down her cheeks as she promises her fidelity. Your cheeks flame with anger and embarrassment as you stride away in a stony silence.
After the initial shock subsides, your love for this woman insists in a respectful solution to send her away quietly. Letting out a sigh of relief and closure, your eyes close for a night of peaceful slumber.
Enter the angel. “Do not be afraid. Mary is telling the truth. She is pregnant with the Son of God. Take her as your wife.”
Joseph wakes up to a life full of ridicule, doubts, and uncertainty. How many times did he wonder if the angelic dream really happened? How often did he work late to take out his frustration with a hammer and chisel? He found himself surrounded by snickers, eye rolls, and air quotes. The doubts and lies growing louder as the bit truth of, “He’s not MY son,” wormed its way deeper into his heart.
But in the big scheme of things, he is no more than a bit player. Sort of like the red-shirt ensign who dies early on in an episode of Star Trek. As the human father figure for Jesus, it seems like we should have heard more about him. But he sort of just...vanishes.
I don't know where Joseph went or why he disappeared. Maybe he didn't struggle with the thoughts I described and the experiences were all in my head. But maybe Joseph and I would've lived a similar life
Days where I look around and wonder if what I believed was true.
Sleepless nights, replaying the incredulous looks and condescending smiles from others as I pursue the path before me.
Tired of pushing, wondering if I’m even going the right way.
In hindsight, we know Joseph and Mary are on the brink of the biggest moment in the history of the world. And giving birth to the Son of God, just like giving birth to every promise God has made, is a lot like, well, giving birth.
It takes time.
It takes pushing.
It takes pain.
In whatever area you are experiencing the pains of labor, persevere. Place your hope on the promises of God.
Friends, we are on the edge of the precipice. In the season of Advent, we move from anticipation to arrival. From darkness to light. In one week, everything changes. We celebrate the birth of the Christ!
Joy is coming. It’s right around the corner. Don’t disappear.
Read these verses during this week of expectation. What does God say to you in these Scriptures?
Sunday (12/17) - Luke 1:26-38
Monday (12/18) - Romans 8:18-24
Tuesday (12/19) - Luke 1: 46-56
Wednesday (12/20) - Matthew 1:18-25
Thursday (12/21) - John 16:16-22
Friday (12/22) - Revelation 12:1-17
Saturday (12/23) - I Corinthians 15:50-57
"Father, I humble my heart and my desires before You. Help me to walk in perseverance and humility with You. Strengthen my hope in the middle of the labor. Prepare my heart to receive your joy. I look forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of the King. Come quickly, Lord Jesus."
Music to meditate on:
Magnificat (modern version)
Magnificat (Bach's version)
For further study about Advent:
A quick reminder: Advent isn't simply remembering the birth of Jesus, it is also looking ahead to the return of the King. All Things New, by John Eldredge, is a wonderful vision towards the coming Kingdom. Dan Horner put it the best, "Wild at Heart was about how to find your heart. All Things New is about how to find your hope." Get it today from Ransomed Heart for only $9.99.
If you'd like a different perspective on Advent, my friend Ryan Sanders is sharing a daily walk through this season. It's a short read that is well worth your time. You can find it here: http://www.theryansanders.com/blog/.
Advent is a season with a long history and depth of meaning. I put together information from many websites: