JOY. Advent 3. Sunday night my husband and I watched the movie, The Nativity. It’s part of our Advent tradition. There are two touching scenes that bring tears to my eyes. After the angel who confirms that Mary’s pregnancy is of the Lord and fulfilling prophecy has visited Joseph, Joseph finds Mary in the field and says, “His name will be Jesus.” He signals her that he knows what she knows and they both know that what is happening is legit. Joy bursts forth. Mary is not alone, is believed, and is walking with someone else. Community brings joy.
Joseph and Mary still live under harsh Roman rule in poverty. They still live in poverty and with the stigma of the pregnancy. They will still have to travel to Bethlehem, nine months pregnant on a donkey! Life is still very hard but the reality that they are not alone and are walking a path God has chosen for them brings joy. Matthew 1:24 shares, lest you think this is all Hollywood, “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”
Perhaps this raises a sad memory of the partner lost to illness, old age, or accident, perhaps divorce and so this picture brings up sad memories at Christmas time. Another name for Jesus that Advent 1 reminds us of is found in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall name him Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.” Joy comes with the realization that in the midst of our challenges, we are not alone. We have someone to share with and to lean on. God is with us and we live in community.
May we take a few moments this day and remember the community of people who have helped us get where we are and shoot a quick “Thank you” prayer for their lives. Remember those from the past who deeply impacted your life. Remember those in the present with whom you share community and who bring a smile to your face. Yes, and remember those whose future you are investing in, as you are their “Joseph.” I am going to challenge us to also ask ourselves if there is someone we hold a grudge or misunderstanding with and with whom we need to restore relationship. Perhaps it is time to let go of that grievance. Community past, present and future brings joy. We are not alone. Quarantining can guide our bodies but our hearts are free to love and rejoice!!! Thank you, Lord.