Adapted from reflections from SP staff member Dale Helt.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” - Matthew 1:18-25 ESV
The news of Mary’s pregnancy completely disrupted Joseph’s life. His dreams, reputation, life track, and whatever idyllic view of God he had, was threatened. At worst, Mary willingly broke her vows with Joseph, and she’d face death by stoning. Or, in the slightly better option that Joseph resolved to, she would be quietly divorced and forced to live with public humiliation along with her illegitimate son. Neither option was ideal.
To avoid the tension, trepidation, and uncertainty Joseph is swamped in, we typically jump to the “good” part of the story when we are told Mary is “found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” But let’s pause. Let’s not jump out of this moment of disruption, but enter it more fully.
How might you have felt if you were in Joseph’s position? We’re not alone in having our lives, futures, and peace disrupted. Where have you been experiencing disruption recently? How are you reacting to this?
As we enter the week of Peace during Advent, may we hear the reassuring words of the Lord as Joseph did: “Do not fear.” How is your desire to experience God’s strength, peace, and tenderness heightened amidst the present disruption in your life? This week, look for the ways God is extending words, moments, and experiences of his peace to you.
Upon receiving peace from the Lord, Joseph obeyed and offered the same to Mary as he “took her to be his wife.” And as you receive peace from God, look to minister peace out of the peace you’ve received. Amen.