Joseph must have gone to bed that night with a lot on his mind. His betrothed, Mary, is pregnant. He knows he has not contributed to this pregnancy. Out of goodness, he is concerned that Mary not be humiliated. He will “put her away quietly,” so the scripture says. But this is not the end of the story.
Joseph dreams. In his dream an angel comes with news for this good man. Joseph’s angel tells him not to be afraid. Joseph learns that he will be father to the One who is the fulfillment of the Davidic promise of his lineage.
Angels are extraordinary messengers, and dreams are amazing means of communication. Joseph is receptive to the message and the means of God’s communication to him. He trusts what God asks him to do. He awakens to his call and his destiny as Mary’s husband and designated parent of Jesus. He immediately becomes part of God’s salvation story, that a child will be born who will be light and life, savior of the world.
What if Joseph had just rolled over, pulled the covers over his head, and slept away his calling? How different would the story of Jesus be? Is our sleep so deep, our awareness so dull, our listening so dim that we do not hear the messengers of God who come to us from all directions? Could our attention, our careful listening, and our trusting obedience change the story of God in our own time? Soon angels singing glory will fill the heavens. We will be called to come and see. Pay attention, you who sleep; do not discount the dream.
Holy God, open my ears to hear your call and awaken my listening. Help me to see, know, and trust enough to follow. Amen.
Isaiah is sent to the king of Judah to declare a prophecy of a future birth through a virgin. The boy will be called Immanuel, “God is with us.” The psalmist cries out to God asking for an end to the suffering of the people. He believes that this will occur through a “son of man,” an expression that Jesus later uses to describe himself. Paul’s opening to Romans roots the gospel in the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus comes from the line of David and fulfills the things foretold. To understand Jesus, we must understand the Hebrew scriptures. Matthew recounts the visitation of an angel to Joseph to tell him of the coming birth of a son. Matthew interprets this birth as a fulfillment of this week’s reading from Isaiah 7.
Read Isaiah 7:10-16. How does Isaiah’s prophecy continue to speak to you today? How do you hope for Christ’s coming?
Read Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19. Recall a time when you have relied on hope for God’s restoration.
Read Romans 1:1-7. What would it mean to add “servanthood” to your list of life goals?
Read Matthew 1:18-25. How is your life different for having listened to God’s call?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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