“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 New International Version
Dear Family and Friends, As most of you know, no sooner are the Christmas items cleared from merchandise shelves at our local stores than Valentine cards, candies and cuddly stuffed animals replace them. I don’t know about you but I want to shout, “Can we please slow down a minute! I’m still pondering the beauty of God’s incarnation in human flesh, his very presence (‘God with us’) in our every-day lives.”
But never mind the merchants. Here it is the end of January already and I’m still reflecting on the person ofJoseph, husband of Mary and stepfather of Jesus. More specifically, I’ve been pondering Joseph’s “God-with-us” encounter within the Christmas story. This has led me to ask, “What is Joseph’s experience speaking into my own life?” This question has led me to identify with Joseph more than ever before. Let me explain.
Consider Joseph. Going about his life in Nazareth, working, and looking forward to his wedding day to the girl of his dreams, Mary. He and Mary have been engaged for a while when Joseph’s world falls completely apart. His betrothed, whom he assumed to be a virgin, informs him that she is with child. Joseph knows he is not the father.What to do? He loves Mary with all his heart and does not wish her harm and embarrassment and so, in his mind he hatches a plan: he will quietly divorceMary. Perhaps this strategy will help still the tongues of the village gossips.
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” John 1:14 The Message
It is then, in the midst of all his rational mind can think to do, that Joseph has a “God-with-him” moment. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him not to be afraid to marry Mary—the child she is expecting was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit. What seemed like dreams dashed and a world falling apart was none other than God working in Joseph and Mary’s lives to bring forth His saving work for all mankind.
I’ve had those “Joseph moments” in my own life. I’m sure you have had them, too. Dreams go up in a puff of smoke. Your world falls apart. Strategies dance about in your head. And then, your own “God-with-you” moment: there’s a bigger story than you realized. The God who gave us His Son, the Word who became flesh and blood and “moved into the neighborhood [of your life experience]” showed up and gave you a perspective you had not considered or been aware of.
For you, our family and friends, Sandi and I pray that you might receive this Christmas take-away from Joseph’s story and celebrate a Valentine’s Day beyond your wildest dreams: Love’s Presence “with you”…each and every moment of each and every day come what may.
Much Love, Grace and Peace
Barry and Sandi Grecu