Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
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 fulfill 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, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!
This is a very familiar text for us. These words fill us with wonder every year and have inspired countless hymns, songs, movies and plays. One of our favorite family traditions during December is to watch Christmas movies. We love the classics: Charlie Brown, The Grinch, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story. The list goes on and on. We gather around, family and friends, enjoying eggnog, hot cocoa, and other special Christmas treats and laugh out loud at the mishaps of the Griswold family, quote Charlie Brown, and cheer words of encouragement to George Bailey. These movies bring us together. In all these movies Christmas never goes as planned and often is a complete disaster. Although these movies feature a dramatic and comedic flare, just like our real lives we experience struggles, challenges, and things rarely, if ever, go exactly as planned. Another relatable and genuine aspect of these movies is that regardless of what happens during the preparation time in December, Christmas always happens, and people learn that Christmas means more than presents and bright lights. In these holiday favorites, Christmas may be a complete disaster for the characters: lights that don’t light, a sad tree that just needs a little love, an empty pantry with not even a crumb left for a mouse, but we know Christmas will still happen. The Whos will still gather in the Whoville square, hold hands, and sing Christmas carols. Love will still be felt. Christ will still be born and will forever mean “God is with us.”
Jesus’s birth was also full of mishaps and drama: an unwed teen mother, a last minute trip, a dirty stable, and flight to Egypt. Nothing stopped Jesus from being born, because nothing can stop God from entering into our world. God’s love is strong and overcomes all the obstacles we create around it. On Christmas day we celebrate God incarnate in the baby Jesus.
God’s Blessings to all of you during this wondrous, meaningful, dramatic and faithful season.
Yours in Christ~ Pastor Erik