“God is With Us”

Every year is different. Just when I think I know how the Christmas season will unfold, it goes another direction. It is totally unpredictable. I wouldn’t mind a little ordinary if you want to know the truth. I do gain some comfort from the original story in that it was unpredictable from the beginning.

Joseph and Mary had no idea what was about to come their way. They were two kids in love. Joseph had already popped the question. Betrothal in his world was just as good as being married. Everything that followed was just completing what was already done. But in their case, it wouldn’t run the normal course.

I am sure that Joseph never forgot that night when an angel came to him in a dream. Some dreams you just don’t ever forget. It’s not in the text, but I bet he never went back to sleep. The girlfriend is with child, but not to worry, we got this covered. However covered it appeared, he knew not everyone would see it this way. But he was a good guy. Righteous is the word they use for that. Love has a way of overlooking things and faith has a way of trusting in God.

But let’s get it right. Mary is the one carrying the child. She is one who could be stoned to death. Joseph could walk away while she would be showing in a few months. But she didn’t react that way. She took it as an honor. To carry the child of God was a privilege.

I have been engaged and shared the joy leading up to the marriage. That time is full of a pregnant expectation. Guys don’t traditionally get as excited about the “pre-planning” as the girls, but guys do look forward to being married.

How they tip toeunexpectedd around all this I will never know. Throw in the trip to Bethlehem and no hotel space and I’ll give them parents of the year. That is a lot of love and a ton of faith.
Every year I have the intentions of scheduling life so that Christmas will be more routine than discombobulated. I have the best of plans. It has never worked.

What has happened is that I have never failed to see God reborn over and over again in front of my eyes. Between all the scheduling and organizing I have the joy of seeing the unexpected. People reach out to another and show an extra dose of love. Gifts of all sorts flow through this place to people in need. Part of the stress is trying to give some order to the over exuberance. But love is not something to control.

Even within the sadness and brokenness of this season, there is a word of comfort for those we serve also. It may not come in the form of a present, but comes in a word of hope that was born to a young couple years ago. The word was that “God was with us”. Saint Paul said that “if God is for you, who can be against you?” It takes a lot of love and faith to get through this season, but God provides. There is no order or predictability to the season, but there is a clear and simple message – God is with us.

I can almost hear Mary and Joseph saying to each other that God will get them through this. If they didn’t say that, then I will say it for them.

This world is a broken place. Life is full of war, corruption, and uncertainty. I will avoid listing all the dark spaces of our lives. I am sure that you can fill in the picture. How I wish that I could take it all away. I can’t. However, with a lot of love and faith I can walk in the footsteps of Jesus and lend a helping hand during my life. Give a little extra dose of love to someone along my path. For if God is for you, who is against you? I wait still with a pregnant anticipation for this child to come again to us. It is an awkward time but God will get us through this. From deep within my soul, I wish Merry Christmas to you all. God is with us, indeed.

~In His Service
Pastor Bob