A daily reflection drawing from Advent Bible passages – to help us grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.
It’s lovely to have you tune in to the last day of the advent collective – day 24. I’m going to start by telling you a story…
When I was 17, in my last year of school, I applied to and got accepted onto an amazing adventurous, leadership programme called Soul Edge. We were to live in a small Christian community in the middle of rural Canada for 5 months and learn from and serve the local church there. As part of the application, I needed a few references so naturally I asked one of my teachers at school. He did his research and came back to me and said “Sarah, are you sure you’re not joining a cult?” I had to explain to him that, no, doing a Christian discipleship training scheme is not the same as joining a cult! It felt horrible to be misunderstood and doubted…
In Mathew chapter 1 Mary falls pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit and no one believes her. I’m sure she will have tried to explain to Joseph that she hadn’t slept with anyone and that it was God’s child she was carrying – but like my teacher I’m not sure if the people around her would have understood. I don’t think anyone would write her a reference or vouch for her! Doesn’t it feel awful when people don’t believe you?
But also, it is so understandable that Joseph wanted to break off things with Mary. She claimed she was still a virgin and yet was going to have a baby. I really relate to Joseph – I would not believe Mary. She hasn’t slept with him and so the rational conclusion is that she had got pregnant from another man. If you were Mary’s friend, would you believe her story that God had miraculously impregnated her? It would be a big ask … In the same way though it was crazy for Noah to believe a flood was coming in a desert; or for Moses to stand at the edge of the Red Sea and believe there was a way across; or for Sarah to believe that she would have a child in her nineties. Sometimes God asks us to believe him when he promises us crazy, impossible things and to trust him when it doesn’t make sense.
When God promised Sarah a child in her old age, she laughed at God, but he replied in love, “Sarah, is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return and you will have a son.” Jesus reminds us in Matthew 19 with God all things are possible. And God keeps his promises.
When it doesn’t make sense to trust God’s promises we are still called to have hope, in spite of what people may think of us. What things in your life are we not daring to pray for because they might be too impossible for God? What things have we lost hope for? I dare you to bring them before God again today and to pray really bold prayers, trusting God with his promises.
Going back to the passage in Matthew 1, verse 20 tells us that Joseph has a dream where the Lord appears to him and says “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.” God calls him by name and knows he is afraid, but God reassures him: do not be afraid, this is a divine conception, a miracle, trust me… And he does. Joseph’s trust in God is beautiful. The situation hasn’t changed – Mary is still pregnant. But Joseph is obedient to the call of God, he trusts in the promise-keeping God, and when he wakes up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him and took Mary home as his wife.
Our highest calling, as Christians, is to love God with everything we have, and I’ve heard before that God’s love language is obedience. So let’s love God today by recommitting ourselves to God today, to trusting him, to serving and obeying him. I am choosing to trust God with some impossible things today: with the uncertainty of this season, God I trust you. With the waiting and longing for family reunions, God I trust you. For wisdom and discernment for all our leaders, God I trust you. For an end to loneliness and depression, God I trust you. For stillness and peace in the midst of this busy time, God I trust you. For an end to homelessness and poverty, God I trust you. For hope in this hopeless time, God I trust you. I trust you because you have always come through – you are faithful. I can trust you because Jesus came, he conquered death, he is seated at the right hand of the Father with all authority, his spirit is with us now and he promised to return again and make all things new. We can have hope today because you are the God for whom nothing is impossible. Amen.