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Christmas Wonder



Mary and Joseph are the two key participants who had front row seats in the unfolding story of Christmas. Caught off guard, they were caught up in wonder. The heaven-orchestrated rescue plan had been launched, and the Sovereign Lord had chosen to use them in his purposes.

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Read Luke 1:26-56, Matthew 1:18-25

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Mary's introduction to the drama of Christmas came through an angelic visitation - completely shocking, but effective communication. Joseph, on the other hand, only had Mary's own words to go on - he was devastated by the news, and determined to bring their relationship to an end. But after his own angelic visitation he, too, was drawn into the rescue plan.


Listen as he recounts the story after a night's sleep ...

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The rabbis say there are three marks of God’s favour: “A good king, a fruitful year, and a good dream.”


Last night I had a dream—amazing dream—filled to overflowing with God’s favour.


I went to sleep, numb in my resolve to divorce Mary. Dreams came to me, fitful and troubled, bathed with pain, soaked in tears. Their swirling darkness confused my mind, unsettling sleep’s much needed rest.


In the midst of that valley of shadow, a light dawned, small and intense at first, then spiraling outward, shaping to a colossal being, angelic in stature, bearing authority from the Lord himself, speaking words of wonder into my appalled ears.


“Joseph, son of David,” the mighty one named me, wrapping my heritage and dreams in one. “Do not be afraid,” he said, speaking to my pain, “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.”

My mind reeled: “Don’t be afraid … conceived from the Holy Spirit … a son … Jesus.”

God’s hand is truly behind this! Holy Spirit conception, not betrayal.


And if it’s Mary’s part to give birth to this son, then it’s my part to name him, to claim him as my own, to name him Jesus. The same name, in its Hebrew form, as that great champion of God’s people, Joshua, his name meaning “the Lord saves.” For Joshua, with a mighty arm, fought saving battles in the wilderness against Israel’s enemies. And leading the people into the Promised Land, he brought them victory at the immovable walls of Jericho—walls that crumbled as Joshua commanded the trumpets to blast and the people to shout.


Mary’s baby boy, a mighty champion. I’m to name him Jesus, because he will save his people like that—save them from their sin, its walls coming tumbling down.


The angel’s words in my dream rolled over me. And as I lay dreaming, a prophetic scripture illuminated my mind, whether prompted by the angel’s direct intervention or my own long years of synagogue attendance. Whichever, the words rang forth clearly with good news and prophecy’s fulfilment in this very moment:


“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel … ‘God with us’.”


Yes. The son … of God … with us … to save. “Jesus,” I’ll name him.

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Everything looks different in the morning after dreams have filled up with God’s angel.


“Do not be afraid to take Mary home … as your wife.” That’s what he said.


I won’t be afraid. I’ve a home, crafted and prepared, lovingly furnished. We’re advancing the wedding. I’m taking Mary there as my wife. There’s a chair set for rocking and a cradle itself prepared and waiting for the baby. It’ll be a son. It’s all prepared.


Though truth be told, somehow, so far, my best laid plans haven’t worked out exactly as I expected. My cherished dreams and hopes are fully realized, yet on a divergent angle—somewhat skewed. Mary, pregnant with a son from heaven? The home’s ready, the cradle is too, but it seems when the Almighty is working salvation, my expectations may simply be too narrow.


So I’ll hold loosely to my own plans in order to be embraced by his.

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Photo by Al Elmes on Unsplash

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