Luke 2: 6
“He (Joseph) went there (Bethlehem) to register (for the census) with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child (not his).”
Houston, we have a problem and we need the plan NOW! Remember that line from Apollo 13? Joseph was not registering at Target for wedding gifts. Shot-gun weddings are usually not an experience without tension and gossip. I wonder what that couple was expecting. I doubt they were traveling to their home town as young newly weds expecting their first child. I wonder if a trip on a donkey across Israel was similar to taking a ride on a dirt road to induce labor? So many questions. How do we find love, the theme of week 4 of Advent, in this scenario?
At Thanksgiving, our son and his girlfriend invited us to join them at her relative’s home. We did not really know the young lady nor her relatives. We spent many years working in Kenya in the “bush” using a different language. They were from northern USA and younger than us. What do we take to contribute to the meal? Will we be intimidated by their house? So many questions swirled in my head. One of the amazing things to us was that a warrior in northern Kenya would start on a walk across the desert to his relative’s home with his spear for snakes or lions and nothing else. He expected them to kill a goat and welcome him. Culture demanded it. Expectations are a reflection of the community we are born into. So where is the love in the face of expectations?
First, I think our expectations are cushioned when we put them in the context of a God who reaches into our world and is active in all situations. Joseph and Mary had experienced through the angels, a God speaking and acting in their lives. We today have access to this same God. We listen to the Christmas hymns we hear the story of God’s presence. We receive cards and good wishes from people we may only communicate with at Christmas but they remember us and we are visible. We are reminded that those that care are far larger in number than the evil one would have us think at our low moments. Joseph’s faithfulness to Mary who was great with child, not that cute young thing he wanted to marry. When our friends remember us in our ugly times, we experience the love of God who while we were still sinners, sent Jesus into our world of chaos.
What are your expectations this Christmas? Whether plans are canceled because of Covid, whether that perfect gift was not on the shelf because of supply chain, and whether we can gather in our houses of worship, we can expect that God is there with us, loving us and supporting us on our journey and preparing a stable of rest. Thank you Lord.