Summary: Joseph, the step-dad of Jesus, was faced with a very tough decision: What to do with a pregnant fiance. Joseph journeyed far in his spirit to come to a place where he could make a home for Jesus with his wife Mary.
Sermon for CATM and for Retirement Suites by the Lake –December 22 and 23, 2007
Advent IV – Joseph Made a Home for Jesus – Matthew 2:18-25
A Salvation Army woman was informed by a policeman that a local ordinance would prevent her from ringing her bells to invite contributions. She was contrite and apologetic that she had “broken” the law. But the next day she was back in front of the store… doing a brisker business than ever… as she waved one sign and then another in the air. One sign said "ding" and the other said "dong."
Christmas is one of those times of the year that we may have very mixed feelings about.. We may love it because of good memories and the happy situation we find ourselves in now. We may hate it because of bad memories and the unhappy situation we find ourselves in now.
Perhaps for some it is a time when we remember someone important to us who has passed away. For my family, this will be our first Christmas ever without my brother Craig, [Eleanor and Lewis’ firstborn son,] who passed away from cancer nearly eleven months ago.
Christmas for some may be meaningful because we are attuned to the value of good beginnings. And indeed, as people of the New Covenant we know that the birth of Jesus was a good beginning.
Not because it happened in a vile stable, a very messy place. Not because Immanuel was born in a royal palace, but because the Christ was born with the purpose and potential to save us and transform out lives.
So in this room today we have a great many responses to Christmas, and its important that we be sensitive to the fact that we each bring our own experiences and histories to worship today. Each of them valid in there own way, and yet how do we proceed forward from where we are today.
The mystery of Christmas can be summed up in three words found in our text today: “God with Us”. And in order to explore this, let’s look in some depth at our reading today. The reading is Luke’s record of the birth of Christ.
Matthew 2: 18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
At one level I have to admit that I find it remarkable that any human language is able to convey even a smidgen of the profound thing that this passage speaks about.
We’re talking about holy mysteries here. We’re talking about something truly marvellous…
The Creator becoming a human. He who is without limit to His power of his glory willingly takes on the limitations of being like us.
He who created everything including this planet comes to reside on this planet.
It’s very like an artist literally joining himself to the characters on his canvas and interacting with them like one of them. That may be the dream of every artist, but here we have an account of this actually occurring.
I need to say that because we speak here today of holy mysteries that in one way are far beyond the capacity of language to speak of them. And yet these holy things, as we see from this passage, somehow happen in ordinary ways, in very human ways.
19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
The first thing we may notice here is that there is scandal in the way Christ came to earth. From the very beginning, in choosing to come to earth born of a virgin, God knew that controversy would surround Christ.
Of course there was no other way to enter the human family than through a human birth, but there is a clear sense in which Mary, the mother of Jesus not only agrees to allow the Christ child to be born through her, but she willingly embraces what can only come to her…disgrace, questions, doubt about her honour, scandal about the birth of her son.
Joseph, being as the Scripture says a righteous man who doesn’t want her to suffer the slings and arrows of public judgment, plans to divorce her without making a spectacle of her.
od apparently not only chose Mary to be the mother of the Saviour. He chose Joseph who perhaps uncommonly for his time was willing to suffer this loss privately. To absorb something which could only have been very painful for him, and to do it personally.
20 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.