Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
As I promised when we had readings for St. Thomas (December 21) posted some time early, there's now a flurry of special observances that will keep us busy for a while. I may even go to posting more than four days a week at some point. Here's what we have on the docket: Christmas Eve 12/24, Christmas Midnight 12/24, Christmas Dawn 12/25, Stephen 12/26, John the Evangelist 12/27, Holy Innocents, Martyrs 12/28, Eve of the Circumcision and Naming of Jesus 12/31, Circumcision and Naming of Jesus 1/1, then Epiphany ⅙. When people called the end of December "the holidays" that was part of what they were talking about.
In Matthew chapter one, Joseph and Mary both receive angelic visitations. In today's pasage, it is Joseph's turn. Mary has been found to be pregnant. Joseph is not the father. Mary's understanding is that somehow, by the promise made to her, the Holy Spirit is the father. How this works is a mystery.
Joseph's inclination would be to call off the betrothal, and to do it very quietly. This could possibly preserve Mary's reputation, though it could harm Joseph's reputation. Hopefully it would not even be noticed. Mary might move somewhere else, there might be someone who would want to marry her and bring up the child as his own, or there might be someone who would adopt the child.
The angelic message to Joseph is not to be afraid. He should take Mary as his wife and he should know something that he would probably not want to tell anyone. The claim is that the child is the child of the Holy Spirit. Nobody would believe that. Just raise the child as your own, but expect that he is special.
That's precisely what Joseph does. He is a righteous man. He wants to protect Mary, as well as to protect this special child. He believes the message sent to him from God.
The child would be called Immanuel, God with Us. However, the child is actually named Jesus, God Saves. It's all right. He has the role correct. Jesus is the one who shows us God walking around in the flesh. Jesus is the one who rescues us. Jesus is the one who will bring us to be with God.
The whole of salvation, for all who believe, is laid out in the birth of this child. Even as a helpless, unborn baby, Jesus is the savior. He is God with us. He is truly God and truly man. He is for you and for me. This is the glory of our Christmas celebration. God has visited us, in the person and work of Jesus.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.