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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Christmas Eve | Thursday, December 24, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Matthew 1:18–25

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. (NRSV)

I am always struck by Joseph’s courage, his willingness to say yes to this daring plan God had already initiated with Mary. Joseph did not have to do it. Like Mary, he could have told that angel to go and try with someone else, that he was not up for the task, that he was too afraid of the repercussions of what might happen. But through his actions, Joseph responded with his own version of “Here I am, a servant of the Lord.” Have you ever wondered why? What was it about Joseph that gave him the internal freedom to step out and take this faithful risk?

We cannot know for sure. I have a feeling it has something to do with the fact that he was devout in his Jewish faith, a “righteous man,” as Matthew states. He must have been steeped in the promises of the prophets, in the stories of his ancestors such as Abraham and Sarah, in the traditions and liturgy of his faith—all of which shaped his mind and spirit into being an open vessel for God’s work. Goodness, we could learn much from the witness of Joseph.

Loving God, I thank you for Joseph’s courage. I thank you for his willingness to trust you. Give to me on this Christmas Eve that kind of deep trust and courage. Help me to say yes to you and to your hope for me and for this world. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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