Our scripture for this week is Matthew 1:18-25.
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 Immanuel” (which means “God 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 tells us of two people who were essential to the plan God has for our salvation. They weren’t special, rich or powerful – a couple from a small town, going about their daily lives but suddenly made aware of the task God had for them. Their acceptance of God’s call still has an affect on us today through the birth of Jesus to live among us and His lessons that teach us how to live for Him.
What can we learn from their experience? First, God wants all of us to be a part of what He does in our world, to represent His light and love in an often dark and troubled world. Our witness to our brothers and sisters shows that we have accepted the call He has for us, that we are followers of Christ.
Next, our behavior as Christians should stand as a model, a testimony to what we believe. If we only talk about it and don’t live it, we are not good representatives for Him in our world. Finally, as the old hymn says “they will know we are Christians by our love”. If our love isn’t given without reservation or judgement, we aren’t following the path Jesus set for us. As we prepare to celebrate His coming to be with us, may we share that joy and thankfulness those in a stable in Bethlehem knew all those years ago.
Loving Lord, we are ever grateful for the love You have sent to us in Christ. Help us to show the world that love, reaching out to all we encounter today with the peace only You can give. Amen.