Matthew 1: 18-25
Like Joseph in the passage, how many times do we face inner dilemmas and conflict? In times of conflict, challenge, or dilemma, we experience many emotions, including fear, confusion, anxiety, doubt, anger, disappointment, helplessness, frustration, sadness, despair, being overwhelmed, lonely, or impatient. And I guess Joseph wrestled with those emotions as well. Maybe, we often neglect Joseph’s struggle and his process between letting go of those emotions and entering the celebration for the birth of a new baby.
For Joseph and his wife, Mary, being pregnant with a new baby is not just good news. Rather, it is also challenging news—keep walking into the unknown, seeking God’s transformative presence, and trusting that God saves and God is, and will be with them always—allowing a young couple to better understand their own conflicted situations.
And here we are, the year of 2022, in the midst of Advent season between letting go of something regretted, failed, and broken and expecting for something new, hope, and joy—the time and the world we often seek the presence of God more than ever—in the context of economic crisis, environmental emergency, war, hate-crime, nuclear threat, violence, politics, divisions.
How do we move from our individual stories to this amazing, but challenging news, the birth story of a baby named ‘save,’ and ‘Immanuel,’ God with us in the midst of all this crazy stuff?
Here are some lessons we can get from Joseph’s story. Be alert to signs of hope. We are easily tempted to be cynical in the current times and patterns by justifying our ignorance—“it is what the world is; it is the way it has always been. So, we are often numb with the violence, hopelessness, or fear that abounds. And, like Joseph, we need to be courageous. The good news that Joseph wrestled with was not given in human ways; not given in worldly ways, and not given according to Joseph’s normal assumptions, but given and done by God’s own way, which requires Joseph and us to be courageous.
We, humans, are easily trapped by our own stories which are familiar and comfortable. That is why we should look to the stories of others that may challenge and change our own stories even if it might make us uncomfortable, frustrated, and fearful, the moment where the birth story of Jesus can be found over and over again.
Today’s story depends upon us whether the angel is still telling the truth or not; whether saving power still exists or not; whether God is with us or not; whether we are alone or not—depending upon us how we live makes today’s story true, and makes a difference for the world and for the people of God.
Let’s keep being alert to discover God’s presence around and among us. Let’s keep being courageous to meet the prince of peace at the place that passes beyond our assumptions and understandings just like Joseph met the angel in the midst of his dream.
Thanks be to God.