Divine Bombshell

Into this growing bliss of love’s bounty would have dropped from heaven a divine bombshell as it sent Joseph shell-shocked and reeling emotionally from the news. How Mary?! How, could you, to me, to us? I thought you loved as I love. The pain, visceral. Wounds feel physical like our chest has literally been blown wide open. A wounded warrior of love. How would you have handled this situation, where it seems trust was broken, betrayal lay afoot, life was just beginning to bud and bloom with the flowers of love. When Mary says, I’m pregnant! But listen, it wasn’t me, it was God. Mary would have shared: Luke 1:27~ to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. (ESV) Luke 1:28~And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (ESV)

This was all too much for Joseph. Maybe he walked away in silence, broken and speechless. He could’ve shouted and stormed sending Mary away in tears. We only know things did not go smoothly, which could be why Mary went to spend three months with Elizabeth, in the hill country of Judea. It’d buy time for Mary’s family to figure out what to do, allow Joseph to chillax, and give God room to work. Saints, we must always leave room for God to work in our lives, and that takes time. So the parted young love, filled with pain, anger, as distrust swirled about. Our young Mary was clinging desperately to the encouraging and treasured words hidden in her heart. Luke 2:19~But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (NIV) Somehow God would make a way. Remember this A Tale of Love: A Set-Up, Now A Story.

Love—A story told by God. If we were watching a movie of Mary and Joseph’s love story, this would be where we pan back, receding from the drab and dusty Galilean village, to take in the wider vision above the ancient landscape, the widening shot revealing the span of firmament and water as we recognize that great big blue ball, Earth. We’d be met by the realization that God’s love is as vast as the universe beyond our own. There is only one God, and in His infinite love, he shares His-story with us.

The apostle John said it simply and best in 1 John 4:16~So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (ESV). This is the nature of our God. Love in its purest form. Love was there at the center of God’s creative force as the universe was spoken. Love was there when the world fell into sin and rebellion, despite the catastrophic consequences of humanity’s fall, love was there to shepherd Adam, Eve and their family following in this altered world. Even then love was making a way to restore all that had been lost. 

Love, it forged a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Love continually led the Israelites through relocation and resettlement, through triumph and imprisonment, and even exile. Love can be traced throughout the Old Testament as God’s love guided, corrected, exhorted, demonstrated mercy to the ever-disobedient and easily distracted, I am not talking about you this morning, but Israel. Love came down to a sleepy little town where Mary and Joseph’s love story, was asked to hold the love for all humanity. The test of any good love story: Is love enough? Is this love strong enough, is this love deep enough, is this love true enough to handle, ALL? From the trivial and annoying to the catastrophic and potentially crushing, YES! God’s faithful abounding love is enough.

A Set-up

A Set-Up. Imagine, you are back in the ancient, dusty days of Israel under Roman rule. Nazareth, a sleepy village Joseph calls home. A carpenter by trade, who teaches his son how to put things together. It’s ironic really because Jesus has put together all of creation. His noble ancestry; distantly waiving to a beloved King David. A humble home so all can relate, while in the days just ahead a miracle waits. Some scholars believe Joseph grew up in Bethlehem and at some point moved to Nazareth 70 miles North as the crow flies. He, a skilled craftsman with his own business was living the Jewish dream, lacking only just the right lady at his side.

The younger girls of the village or more likely their fathers would’ve noticed the quaffed curls and prominent nose. Jewish marriage customs were quite a bit different from ours. Mary’s father would have gone to Joseph with a proposal and arranged the marriage. A cash price, dowry, or terms would’ve been struck. The deal brokered, I know this sounds strangely familiar to dating today only not our father, but an app as an intermediary. Perhaps dads ought to become well versed in this topic for your teen’s sake, and see how the matching may make. At this point, a contract, called a ketubah, would be signed. Married? Yes, signed, sealed, but not yet delivered.

Then the couple would get to know each other, more like the dating we might think of when we hear our grandparents share tales of courting. Back when places like drive-ins actually existed, a bag of candy was a nickel, you know that sort of larger silver coin that won’t fit in any gumboil machine, yet in yesteryear it’d procure a whole bag of sweet treats, and a whole meal would have been only 25, no not dollars, but cents. Mary would still live with her family, and at some point in the future, maybe a year, perhaps years, depending on the bride’s age or other mitigating factors one day Joseph would lead a procession of his friends to Mary’s house where she’d be waiting with a group of hers. Then while everyone waited in the house, the couple would consummate their marriage. 

Aren’t you glad, this is not our tradition today? Mary might have baked Joseph special loaves of bread or cakes, learning his favorites. And he certainly would’ve joined Mary’s family for meals, celebrations and religious festivals, as they began to share in all of life, with its daily twists and turns. With each passing day, this young couple learned more about each other. What made the other laugh, how they handled challenges, hard days and the strengths of their personalities as well as the imperfections. Hopes, fears, dreams, longings, even family would have been a topic of discussion.

Love came down

Today, we celebrate Love as our Lord’s Advent moves Christ Jesus into our neighborhood. God with us, we witness the one-of-a-kind love that changed our lives forever when Jesus was born into our world, a babe in a manger, the human embodiment of God’s greatest gift of love.

Advent offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing and arrival of the Messiah, as we celebrate His birth and are encouraged to consider His second coming. As we again connect with God’s love for us, let’s look at a love story. Mary and Joseph must’ve had love between them, their story unfolding paints a vivid picture of the love of God. 

Love is truly powerful. Imagine we could harness all the creative energy that’s been devoted to writing love stories and their ballads throughout history. We might begin with the decadent songs, turn to the flickering of the silver-screen where page by page stories spread across the vast expanse. As we proceed to work our way through history’s unfurled scroll, we’d navigate novels, hopscotch our way through poems, rekindle the fire of youth in plays saying. My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite. Shakespeare~Romeo and Juliet. As epics arrive like ships from foreign shores we’re reminded of Homer’s words: some things you will think of yourself…some things God will put into your mind ~The Odyssey. 

For our entire human history, we have been inspired, moved, confused, intrigued, and motivated—by love. Perhaps there’s a reflection there of our origins and how our Creator folded into our being the deepest longings of His own love. Woven throughout the fabric of our existence and being, a desire for God’s great love to find rest within our lives. With that picture hanging on the wall of our mind, have you ever given thought to the story of love between Mary and Joseph? Sure, we know the Christmas story intimately, love standing as the central theme intertwined throughout our lives, but we’ve probably never walked the aisle with the happy couple, bound for marital bliss. Let us hitch our wagon to the happy couple, whom God’s asked to raise His only Son