… and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of 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 fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (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 borne a son; and he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
I was standing in line at an office supply store two days ago, and I overheard (everybody there overheard it) a boisterous conversation about hating Christmas. It wasn’t political or religious, both parties agreed that Christmas is a great holiday, but … after the preliminaries, the back and forth about the expense, the parties, the expectations, the decorating, the disappointments, there did not seem to be much left in which to rejoice.
One voice was a little louder and a lot more insistent than the other, and no doubt was left to us concerning the sentiments expressed. Christmas, a bother. Christmas, a dud. Christmas, more trouble than it is worth. It was rather forthright and derogatory.
Did it make all of us inside want to go home and take down the tree and the stockings? I doubt it, but Debbie Downer was holding sway, and it was unpleasant, to say the least. Maybe she has sorrows, and maybe there are wounds in her heart. Maybe she just likes attention and went home and had some closet eggnog! I am pretty sure she had no idea how extravagant she was toward no extravagance! So, a word today about holy indulgence. There is something about the extravagance of Christmas that I love, something that has nothing to do with anything I expect to receive, something I could wish for Debbie D., for it would have to be better than what she’s got!
I do hate the commercialization of this holy, holy hour. I do hate my own busy-ness when it threatens to turn me into a worse version of myself than I am most of the rest of the year. I hate when I spend or think I should spend more money than has been set aside for our celebration …
But, I love that we rejoice to spend and do and decorate and sing and sparkle and give and visit and feast and laugh and worship and gather and restore and renew and all the other precious things that seem heightened, along with the stress, at Christmastime.
It’s as if Christendom is on watch, and definitely not just for the presents. That’s such a small part of it all. At a certain age, the presents only say, “This is our celebration, and we share its joys. Today, we say I love you with a gift.”
It’s the watching that we like best, I think. The anticipation. That’s the secret joy and the crux of Advent. My theory is, watching and waiting ought to be the secret joy of life itself!
What kind of watchfulness did it require that Joseph could be visited by an angel in a dream and take every word to heart? How pure must have been his soul that he could be defiled according to the law in order that the Christ might have a father on earth! As when David ate the shew bread, as when priests work on the Sabbath in the temple, Joseph knew the Eternal God, the Father of His Lord. He knew Him, trusted Him, obeyed Him, blessed Him, and knew that he hadn’t offended Him! There is no extravagance on earth with which to compare this singleness of heart. Talk about bother! Talk about disappointment! Joseph’s life and aspirations were turned upside down and shaken out into the dust, but what is a crown of faithfulness worth to any one of us!
I tell my soul, celebrate or don’t, but let everything you do be done in love, and as long as I will have Christmas, it will have the extravagance of friends and fun and fellowship and rejoicing, and since I can have sparkling lights and soul-stirring music, I’ll have that, too. Let me be in my place, doing what I should be doing, and having a Christmas celebration with doors flung wide!
All His life, the Lord Jesus knew what His earthly father had done for him, so extravagantly.
Polidoro da Lanciano, Holy Family With Angel
public domain, death of the artist, 500 years, Wikipedia