Sunday, 22 December 2019

God Enters the God-Made World

Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered 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 home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matt 1:18b-21 
God enters the God-made world. Through a tiny, tiny miracle. Nothing like the size of loaves and fishes or walking on water. Just one tiny, tiny life nestled in the Virgin's womb. But the Spirit that breathed life into the first Adam now brings into life the new one. Stirring like the first shoots of a spring bulb in a December day. Destined, over the next nine months, to go through those transformations we all undergo in the womb. As he grows, encapsulating the very evolution of human beings. When God entered the world, for a little while God looked like a tiny fish.

But while the God-child goes through his dramatic development, he has fired off a few radical developments outside the womb as well. An engaged couple have their wedding plans thrown in the air. Mary has her first sorrow -  one not included in the traditional seven sorrowful mysteries - as she looks into the baffled face of her fiance.

Because here's a thing about the Virgin Birth. You get people saying of course people in a pre-scientific world would believe in this kind of thing. They were superstitious and gullible. But Joseph knows how babies are made. He doesn't think they're found under cabbage plants. And he's not going to want to bring up anyone else's child. But he's a decent bloke. He doesn't want to bring Mary disgrace. So he tries to find a quiet way out. And it takes a message from God to tell him what's going on.

Of course, you could argue that it might have been easier just bringing up someone else's kid that having God's son around the house. You're never gonna want to upset his dad, are you?

But Joseph is a holy man, and a good man. He hears God's words and he obeys.

They're to call him "Jesus" - "The LORD saves". And before he's got round to saving the world, he's going to bring God's love right into the middle of this little family. This otherwise ordinary family - a carpenter and his young wife.

Of course, being God's love, that's going to involve quite some excitement - strange visitors, a room-full of shepherds, an escape to Egypt and a child going AWOL in the temple.

But for the time being, the Word is made flesh and dwells among the two of them. And they obey God's will, scary as it might be, and prepare for what lays ahead.

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