Isaiah 7:10-16 Matthew 1:18-25
If you were to ask the writer of Matthew about Christmas he would not offer our normal, comforting Christmas joys. His story includes the genealogy of Jesus rather than the song of Mary. Herod, who kills children, is included rather than the host of heavenly angels. You will not find mention of swaddling clothes or even an acknowledgement of the passing of days. Everything regarding the birth and first few years of Jesus’ life is mentioned within darkness, dreams, the night, and one bright star. Yet, this is how the promise of God dwelling among us is carried out.
The story of Joseph found in Matthew, while not typical to what we hear about during the Advent season, invites us into the story of the promise of God in our own lifes. Maybe you, like me and so many of us, hoped that the promise of Emmanuel, God-with-us, would make everything bright and clear and generally just better. But what if the promise that God would be with us is not just designed for the light, but is carried with us even into the darkest places? What if the words God with us were true even when we can’t make sense of them? Do not fear. God is in the dark too.
Those words – God with us, reminds us that this is not just the story of Joseph’s dream, but it is the story of God willing to be made known to you and to meet you right where you are whether you are in the bright blessed day or the dazzling mystery of night. After verse 25, Joseph and Mary’s story picks back up in the wilderness and maybe that is where this Advent season finds you too. Perhaps the wilderness is the exact place that God has promised for you this season. Do not fear. God is in the wilderness too.
Like Joseph and Mary, the pilgrimage you take as you learn more about what it means for God to be with you will be unique for each of you. Yet, I hope that this Advent season as you light candles, sing familiar songs, and stand in the tension of what is and what has not yet come, that you will remember that God is with you, just maybe in ways that you’ve never known before. As you come in half believe and strangely stirred by the promised mystery of God-with-us that there is room and welcome here for you.