Advent Season – Week 3 – Mary and Joseph
December 16, 2018
Worship at FLPC is enriched during Advent and Christmas by Worship Banners that were designed and created by Margaret McKinnon Harris and given to FLPC to the glory of God in 2016. Each week another pair of banners will be hung in the sanctuary that invite us into the ancient story of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth and into the current call to be transformed into a disciple of Jesus Christ. We hope these banners will enhance your worship on Sundays and will invite you into the journey of discipleship every day of the week.
Third Week of Advent – Mary and Joseph
Ah! Here they are! Mary and Joseph pause at the top of a gently sloping hill. They look into the distance. Mary asks Joseph – again – “How much further?” Joseph gives an answer – an educated guess. Mary shifts on the back of their donkey, trying to get comfortable. Joseph takes her hand in reassurance of love and protection as they resume the journey. Mary glances down at her swollen belly. In the darkness and swaying motion of the donkey, she wonders about the baby she is carrying. How will it change their lives when he is born? Are we impatient and uncomfortable on our journey? Are we willing to let our lives be changed by a Bethlehem baby?
Matthew 1:18 – 2:6
Before Jesus was born, Mary’s pregnancy wasn’t world news, but it did turn Mary and Joseph’s world upside down. It was not the way they had thought they would begin their lives together. Under normal circumstances, the wedding would have been called off and Mary would have become “damaged goods” in a time when women were property. But the ancient promises of a child born to a virgin and named Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14) and the ancient prophecies of a ruler being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2+) echo in the night air as Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem. Who is this baby? Is he just a peasant of no account, or is he a threat to Herod? Often we only know the importance of an event when we look backwards on it and see it in a larger context.
It seems like throughout Scripture that this is how God works: in the small event, the seeds that sprout, the cup of cold water given, the widow’s mite. “ An old rabbi was once asked why so few people were finding God. He wisely replied that people are not willing to look that low. Jesus was born in a stable, and God is especially concerned for the poorest, the lowliest, the lost, and the neglected.” [ From Liberation of Life by Harvey and Lois Seifert – quoted in A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p. 181]
- Think back on your life and identify places when, in retrospect, you know God was at work in you. Either tell someone else that story or pray a prayer of thanks to God.
- What small acts and events can you identify now where God is present and active in your life and through you in others’ lives?
Can you think of ways in which, even now, God calls us to live differently than the established norms?