I noticed the airplane as it headed in the direction of the airport near my workplace. It’s size, weight, and capacity were unchanged from the moment it left the airstrip of an airport that was its departure point, to the moment I noticed it flying above. But against the expanse of the sky, the airplane resembled a child’s toy. Context alters perspective.
This Advent season as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Savior, each day moving us closer to December 25th, I wonder, what is the context for my life? What is the context of your life? Against what backdrop am I, are you viewing that circumstance which is a source of anguish? The unanswered prayer? Our deepest longing? Your greatest joy? The event that fills you with anticipation? Or dread? Context gives perspective.
Beginning on Christmas Day, I watched The Nativity Story:The Journey of a Lifetime, a Story for all Time, in its entirety and then watched various scenes again, several times. And I am seeing Joseph as I have not before. I see his compassion which was demonstrated before he knew the truth about the conception of the Child Mary carried. I see he must have had a heart that was tender toward God. Unlike Zacharias, who initially doubted the word spoken to him in person by Gabriel, Joseph believed the word spoken to him in a dream. I am thinking of his total obedience and how his reputation was likely forever damaged in his community but he had the applause of heaven.
The Bible tells us that Mary was highly favored but I believe Joseph was favored also. He was trusted by God with a task that few other men would have accepted, much more executed as he did. Trusted to protect and provide for Mary and the Word made flesh. He knew in the most intimate manner what others would later discover – the long awaited Messiah had come. God had kept the promise He made. Also, if the birth scene in this movie is an accurate depiction of what occurred, in helping to deliver Jesus, Joseph was given a gift that no one else ever received – He was the first to see God in human flesh and the first to hold Him. Joseph. One of the lessons of his life is – obeying God may result in loss, heartache, struggle, and pain but obeying God is always worth the cost and is always rewarded by God.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,
You’re so blessed among women, and the babe in your womb, also blessed! And why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord visits me? The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears, The babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy. Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!
And Mary said,
I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened— I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before Him. He bared His arm and showed His strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. He embraced his chosen child, Israel; He remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what He promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now. (Luke 1: 39-55)
Prayer: Father, this Christmas, as we read and hear familiar passages of Scripture, may we experience a fresh sense of wonder and joy, as if we were being told of Your indescribable love for the first time.