This year in Advent we are taking in 4 stories of Angel visits. These visits came in the days before Christmas. Last week we took in the story of a man named Zachariah who had a fearful experience of meeting with an angel. This week we hear the story of an angel who came to visit Joseph. Next week we'll listen into Mary's angel moment. And the week before Christmas we'll listen to the words of the Angels for shepherds the night Jesus was born.
There's a part of Joseph's story that I don't want to pass by to quickly. Joseph came from a great family line. He was a descendant—generations back—of the youngest son of Jesse. That youngest son was called David. The people universally regarded David as Israel's greatest king. After all those generations the family line was thought dead. And along the way. In the middle of a dark and fearful time hundreds of years after the great king David and hundreds of years before Jesus a seer, a prophet named Isaiah had words of hope to share.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,This word of hope shined bright in the middle of exile and turmoil. A shoot, new life, shall sprout from a stump that was believed dead. Part of walking with Jesus is this deep hope rooted in a promise. That for God new life is always possible. For God no person and no situation is beyond redemption. This is the promise that was about to be fulfilled in Joseph's life.
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
Isaiah 11:1 NRSV
Joseph thought he knew what was coming:
in that order.
When he learned Mary was pregnant he was done. His plan was simple: end it quietly and walk away. Leave Mary to her problems. But Joseph's plans were going to be subsumed by an even bigger plan. The plan of God laid out for him by an angel.
But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,
Matthew 1:20-24 (NRSV)
This week I pay attention to what the angel had to say to Joseph. Sure it was fearful and confusing. But I give thanks that the angel's words met him right in his confusion and fear. Because the son he raised together with Mary brought salvation to the world.
Peace, and thanks for reading. John