This past Advent season has been a time of reflection for me upon the theme of the Incarnation of our LORD Jesus Christ. This Biblical theme is established in the Gospels in a number of ways, and is a call to real faith. Matthew tells us the story of the crisis which Joseph faced when he received news of Mary’s virgin pregnancy. As he meditated on how he should respond to such news Joseph was led to God’s Word through the prophet Isaiah. This word was to be understood and obeyed, and this is exactly what Joseph did. What a wonderful example Joseph sets for us as we face the various trials and crises of our lives. The Word was Isaiah 7:14, in context, the prophesy of the coming of Immanuel. In Isaiah’s context King Ahaz is called to “Take heed, be calm, don’t be afraid, and don’t be discouraged.” In verse 11 he is called to be established in faith. It seems that Joseph is called to the same thing. He obeys God in faith.
The lesson for us is that we must respond to the crises in our lives with obedience to the same Word from God. We are to, by faith, receive the life that Immanuel offers to us. This is in fact the message of Christmas. God became flesh and came to dwell among us in order to redeem us. This redemption must be received by obedient faith.
It seems to me that Phillips Brooks expresses this response of obedient faith beautifully as he writes in his Christmas Hymn. “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by:
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary; and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth.
How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming; but in this world of sin,
Where weak souls will receive Him, still the dear Christ enters in.
O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in; be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.”
Have a very merry and blessed Christmas.