Sunday was Sr. Wantabee’s last 24 hr. on call at the hospital. She had the priviledge of preaching on Matthew 1:18-25, the barebones Christmas text. It’s not the cute Luke text with shepherds and angels and inn keepers but straight to the point.
Matthew starts with the lineage. These are the “good guys” but Mary has to go to Joseph and have the DTR (define the relationship) talk. Or perhaps Joseph went to Mary with his and everyone else’s observations. Mary was pregnant and not by him. Houston, we have a problem!
It’s a common story we can identify with. Not the pregnancy out of wedlock perhaps but the DTR discussion. The doctor comes in and says, we need to talk. The boss invites us into the office for a talk. We open our bank statement and realize there has been identity theft. We get our savings statement and realize our retirement is gone and we will still need to work. Houston we have a problem. It’s not just Joseph and Mary this Christmas time but it is all of us. It is over in Afghanistan but it is also in our homes. Things do not always turn out the way we planned or wanted or dreamed of. Sr. Wantabee met with a couple at the hospital who had to have a C-section. Something was wrong with the 32 week pregnancy. In fact the child, the dream, the hope, the first child died. We are devastated. What to do?
Joseph had three options. He could just have Mary stoned. Anger is always a choice but does it resolve the sense of betrayal? Does it create relationship or destroy it? Problems can be hid in the closet but they will still creep out as the most inconvenient time.
Rather Joseph decided on option two. As a “righteous” man, he decided to dismiss Mary quietly. Denial! As Sr. Wantabee thought about this, she pondered, since when is dismissal in small time America a quiet thing or a kind action. Mary was labeled and would live her life as a prostetute! Denial does not solve a problem but only ignors it. It is not “righteous” but makes a person think he is “righteous.” God does not deny our problems and we continue to scream, “Houston, we have a problem!”
Third option is the angel who whispers in our dreams, “This is of the Lord. Do not be afraid.” God does have a plan for salvation and the name is Jesus. But we want the solution now. We want the happy ever after now. We want things resolved now. We want the job now. We want peace now. We want love now. We don’t want to wait. We don’t want to lean into our plights, trusting that somehow God is working for our good. that’s hard.
Joseph decides to lean into his situation and names the Christ child, “Emmanuel, God with us.” God is with us, not above us, not below us, not pushing us, not pulling us, but walking with us as He works out Salvation.
Which way are you leaning?