Rhiannon and I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We pray that you are enjoying your time with friends and family. With Rhiannon being ready to deliver within the next two weeks, the Christmas story is taking on a new meaning for me this year. Yesterday we attended a service at a very large church in Albuquerque. The pastor really brought the message home when he said to the men, "Imagine taking your wife on a 70 mile trip riding a donkey pulling the wagon carrying your nine month pregnant wife. I'm sure that every other minute Joseph had to say, 'Are you all right? Are you still all right? You want to pull over? Again?'"
The pastor's point was that it must have seemed to Joseph and Mary like their world was falling apart because nothing was happening like they would have planned it. Imagine the shame that Mary and Joseph knew they would face from their friends and family knowing that few would probably buy into the whole God-impregnated-my-wife scenario. Joseph could have shamed his wife publicly or, even worse, he could have had her stoned (think about how relevant this story might be to Islamic cultures that practice honor killings), but he chose the path of love and faithfulness. Mary could have made a different choice as well. She knew the ridicule, and threat to her life that she might face, but she chose the path of obedience, and the world has honored her many times over for her choice.
What is the most difficult thing that God has asked you to do? None of us will ever be in a situation exactly the same as Mary and Joseph, but all of us can chose faith over fear, love over revenge, and faithfulness over cowardice. As you reflect on the meaning of Christmas this year, think about Mary and Joseph and the strength they found from their love for each other and for their Creator. May the Lord give you the strength to make the right choices throughout the next year, even when the choices are difficult.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.