Summary: Today, our Scripture tells of the third major party to the incarnation and his response to it. It is a story of courage that is told every Christmas season. But it is also a story we often miss because this hero of the story is usually in the background.
The Courage of Joseph
Every day for the first 10 months after Katrina, I would drive home on I-10 and there was an indelible image which would strike me. On a billboard just before I got off on my exit was the image of a female New Orleans police office submerged in water up to her neck, trying to stay afloat while helping a citizen stay alive and be airlifted to safety. There were other harrowing acts courage in the aftermath of Katrina: the citizens who took their boats and rescued literally thousands of people and took them to dry ground on I-10. The artist who used a beat up old truck to rescue 100’s and 100’s of people risking his own life amidst snipers and criminals. The doctors, nurses and health care professionals who stayed in Memorial Hospital trying to keep the ill alive for days without any help from the outside world. The firefighters, policemen and women who risked their own lives to maintain control of the city.
The thing about courage is that it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it. The Late Show with David Letterman is produced in the heart of New York City. It was Monday after 9/11 and Letterman said that the only reason he was back was due to the strength and courage of then Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In his opening monologue he said: "If you’ve been watching and you’re confused, depressed, irritated, angry, and full of grief and you don’t know how to behave and you’re not sure what to do, because we’ve never been through this before, all you had to do at any moment is watch the Mayor. Watch how he behaved. Watch how he conducted himself. Watch what he did. Listen to what he said. Rudolph Giuliani is the personification of courage. He’s an amazing man and far better than we could have hoped for." Courage. You don’t know how to define it but you know it when you see it.
We’ve been looking at the God encounters this Advent and several individual’s response to such an encounter. A God encounter is not something you’re looking for, yearning for, expecting or even thinking about and then God shows up. A God encounter is not you going to look for God. It’s when God comes looking for you and supernaturally makes an appearance in your life and calls you to him. First, we saw a God encounter Mary had when the angel Gabriel announced that she had been chosen by God to give birth His Son Jesus, who would be Savior of the world. When she questioned the angel about how this could happen, Gabriel responded, “For all things are possible with God.” And Mary chose to trust God when she said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me according to your work.” Last week, we looked at the shepherd’s encounter with God and learned that God encounters us in the ordinary moments of our lives. These shepherds heard the call of God while at work protecting their sheep, and left their flocks journeying to Bethlehem to see what God was about to do. Having seen the miracle of the Christ child, they “spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child…” And then they “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” As a result of their God encounter, they returned to God and their faith grew as a result.