Merry Christmas, friends!
Wherever you are at this time, whatever you believe, the Intramuralist wishes you the great joy and peace that comes with this season. We are thankful for you!
Preparing for this day, I began to wonder. I wondered about each of those involved in the account of this historic event…
The shepherds… Out in their fields nearby — geesh — I can’t imagine the shock of actually seeing, hearing, or interacting with an angel. But I love the angel’s first words: “Don’t be afraid.” I think of that now, as I humbly attempt to grow in my faith… no need to fear.
The Magi, wise men, or three kings… These men traveled most likely thousands of miles — from perhaps Persia (modern day Iran/Iraq) in the original star trek. What would motivate a man to travel so far? What were they expecting to find? I wonder about their walk.
Jesus… We celebrate the babe born in the manger, although few attest to December 25th being the actual day. What is attested to is the number of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus — a number somewhere in the hundreds. That blows me away. Makes me wonder more.
Mary… Ah, yes, Mary… Much about Mary makes me wonder… how she’s thought to have only been a teen… how other organized religions, such as Islam, also acknowledge her as the mother of Jesus… how one would wrestle with both a virgin birth and then carrying the supposed savior of the world — at approximately only 15! Amazing… so much to dwell on here.
And finally, Joseph… truth told, until recently I spent little time thinking of Joseph’s role… LOL — Mary had most of the work to do. We also sing a bunch of songs about all of the above, but few to none center on the man considered the Earthly father of Jesus. A wise teacher in my life encouraged me to camp here a little more this year…
Imagine… betrothed to the woman you love, and she then comes to you and says she’s pregnant… and not by you. Not only does she tell you she’s pregnant, but she shares with you this seemingly crazy claim that the father is the great big God of the universe.
Scripture tells us that Joseph struggled — shocking — with Mary’s claim. Legally, since the pregnancy was of no physical result connected to him, he had the right to stone her. But he had no desire to publicly shame the woman he loved; he planned to divorce her quietly.
Pause with me for a moment… he had to be emotionally unhinged inside. Yes, he could have Mary stoned — and get revenge for what she did. He could also divorce her quietly, as he planned — apathetic to what just happened. And let’s be honest with one another; in today’s culture, when we feel wronged by another, extracting revenge is expected and apathy is understandable.
But Joseph chose neither.
An angel appeared to him in a dream, also telling him not be afraid (love that!). The angel confirmed the words of Mary.
So Joseph chose to believe.
And he chose to offer grace.
Back to today’s culture for a minute — especially on Christmas day — few things are more contagious than grace. When generous grace is extended in scenarios where something lesser would have been either expected or understandable, we are prompted to wonder… how beautiful, indeed.
Merry Christmas, friends!
May your hearts be filled with wonder… all throughout the year.
With great joy and respect…
[Header graphic courtesy of www.nonachurch.com in Orlando, FL.]