Fourth Sunday in Advent, Year A
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him;
Dreams, angels, the subconscious, principalities, powers. Call it what you will. There is likely more we don’t know than we do about what to literally make of these stories. But most of us likely know something about those inner voices that speak to us with a prescience, of warning, of promise, of a deep sense of what is or what is coming.
Immediately after Joseph resolves to quietly dismiss Mary to an uncertain and fraught future without him for the child that is not his, he is confronted with a counter call to courage, to faith.
And he listens!
If only Ahaz (Isaiah 7) had done the same thing.
Joseph listens—like Mary, like Elizabeth, like Zechariah before him, like the 42 generations of ancestors Matthew lists just before this story. He listens and responds with courage. Don’t be afraid, Joseph. And the result seems to be a developed ear for faith. He gets two more visitations that steer him and his family from the danger that awaits as the story unfolds. He grows an ear for the God who comes to him with goodwill. And the future unfolds in blessing and safety.
Most of us know something about that inner voice, that voice that speaks good, not harm, that sets our future path. Let us tune our ears to the promise of the birthing, saving, rising one Advent promises.
READINGS: Isaiah 7:10-16 † Psalm 80:1–7, 17–19 † Romans 1:1-7 † Matthew 1:18-25
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La Tour, Georges du Mesnil de, 1593-1652. The Angel Visiting Joseph in a Dream, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=46742 [retrieved December 12, 2022]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Georges_de_La_Tour_022.jpg.
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