Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - Advent Thoughts

Advent Thoughts - Week One

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!

She will give birth to a son,

and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25, NLT)

St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus by Guido Reni
(in the public domain, source: Wikimedia Commons)
The Advent wreath is out on the table, but in all my busyness I have yet to light the first candle. On top of that, I have been trying out an Advent experiment and have already fallen behind! I divided the verses of the Christmas story in the Gospels, so that I would have a short reading to meditate on for each day through Christmas Eve. The book of Matthew focuses on Joseph’s story, which I read part of earlier this week.

When God chose Joseph to be a stepfather to Jesus, He chose a man filled with mercy and grace. It must have broken Joseph’s heart to think that Mary had been unfaithful, but he chose to be kind, not shaming her with extra attention. He could have brought her forward and asked for her to be stoned, but Joseph had a heart of mercy toward his betrothed. He decided to divorce her quietly.

But then the Lord stopped him by sending an angel in his dreams to tell Joseph that Mary would bear the Son of God. So Joseph obeyed by taking Mary as his wife and by naming the child Jesus when He was born.

Joseph had a heart prepared to hear the voice of God when it came to him. He was attuned to it. He didn’t chalk the dream up to too much spice in his lentils the night before. He knew the voice of God, believed the angel in the dream had been sent from Him and acted on the commands given to him. What wonderful example Joseph is for us!

Father, please help are hearts to be attuned to hear the still, small voice of your Holy Spirit. Strengthen us that we might obey You each day. Please help us to be filled with your mercy and grace that we might extend it to others. Amen.

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  1. A beautiful introduction to the Christmas Season. Love the painting of Joseph with the infant Jesus. Beautiful all around. God Bless and Merry Christmas.

    1. Thank you, Nancy. The same to you. I really like the painting as well.
      There seems to be a quality of sweetness and family love to it, isn't there?

  2. Mary and Joseph both impress me so much and I can't wait to meet them in heaven. I have so many questions!