Advent Devotional: Week Four - Tuesday
Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18-20 (HCSB)
The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way:
After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.
But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit."
Even in the midst of these tremendous stories of God’s miraculous power in the birth of Jesus, we find that the humanity of the other characters remains transparent. Both Matthew and Luke want us to know that from the very beginning Jesus’ story is fraught with trials and sufferings. Even in the midst of Mary finding out she is pregnant with a child from the Holy Spirit, Matthew tells us that Joseph considered divorcing her silently, assuming that she has committed adultery, a sin punishable by death. Committed adultery—in the midst of their betrothal to be married! This is pretty scandalous stuff to be published in what we often see portrayed as the pristine birth of shiny baby Jesus.
This scene reminds us of the stress, humanity, and conflict of our own lives. The holiday season is a time that emerges to us in both the blessings of family life, and the pain of family dysfunction. Even as the Lord speaks to Joseph, we need the Lord to speak into our relationships so that they too can reject his hope and power.
Prayer: Dear Father, we are so thankful that you speak into not only our own lives, but into our families and spiritual communities. Forgive us for the ways we seek to arrogantly stay independent. Forgive us for the pride in our hearts that often shows itself through the ways we refuse to allow others to help and serve us. Forgive us for the anger we feel and conflicts that arise when people don’t give us what we want. Continue to speak into our relationships—bringing honesty, hope, humility, and healing. And continue to speak through our relationships, that as we see the ways your Spirit is working in others, we can understand you better and praise you for the ways you continue to make your children more and more like your son.
Advent Singing: "O Come All Ye Faithful"
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant! O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem! Come and behold him, born the King of angels;
Refrain: O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!
God of God, Light of Light eternal, lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb; Son of the Father, begotten, not created;
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation, sing, all ye citizens of heaven above: “Glory to God, all glory in the highest!”
Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning; Jesus, to thee be all glory given; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;