Scott Sanders launches our Advent series by getting lost in the bush and finding the humble path - at expense of his pride.
Pastor Ray Minniecon is a descendant of the Kabi Kabi nation and the Gurang Gurang nation of South-East Queensland, and a descendant of the South Sea Islander people. He is a prominent Aboriginal Christian Leader in Australia with a long history working across Aboriginal justice issues through business and ministry.
Today's reading is Matthew 1:18-24
In today’s passage, we read of a young couple, deeply in love with each other, who are looking forward to a marriage full of all their hopes and dreams that they had planned together.
But these dreams were shattered when the young man finds out that the girl of his dreams is pregnant! He is deeply hurt and considering divorcing her.
I can only imagine the disquieting thoughts and questions that would be going through his mind. Why did my future wife cheat on me? Whose is the real father? What would his friends think? How am I going to tell my parents and family?
How do you explain that?
The only explanation that he can offer is that some spirit-being came to him in a dream and told him this incredulous story that God is going to be the actual father of the child. And that God asked him to continue with his wedding plans with his girlfriend!
This story is filled with confusion, disappointment, disruption, suspicion and ambiguity. For Joseph, this is not a story of joy, but fear.
But notice that they didn’t try escape to some secret place to escape the shame of this nightmare. They didn’t elope. And Joseph does not divorce her. They both came out with the same story, that a spirit-being told them that their first child will be born from the spirit of God, and trusted – despite fear – that God was somehow working through it all.
As I contemplate the birth of Jesus from this perspective, I’m confronted with different questions, I’m forced to think about God differently. I am presented with a God who can disrupt and interfere in ways we cannot comprehend, that can completely turn our world upside - even disrupt our hopes and dreams.
This is an uncomfortable and unresolved truth, and the idea of fear not leaves me with more questions than answers. But in that tension and uncertainty we do not withdraw, we continue.
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18 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. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 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. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.