The Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) marked the shortest day and longest evening of the year.
Thus, the light is beginning to return with increasing days and shortening evenings.
Our Advent emphasis has also shifted in direction from the Second Coming of Jesus to his original arrival as the baby in the manger.
As we await the baby in the manger, we are aware that Jesus brings with him the light that is Hope, Peace, Joy, and LOVE which the darkness of hopelessness, conflict rooted in injustice, misery and suffering, and hate cannot overcome.
It is during the Winter Solstice, Yule, Kwanzaa, Hanukah, Christmas, and various religious and cultural celebrations encourage the entire world to join in a conspiracy of LOVE without the boundaries and confides that often separate us, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, culture, religious or non-religious affiliation, political affiliation, socio-economic status, sexuality, and etc..
And that LOVE is our emphasis this morning.
During this time of Advent and Christmas, we tend to focus upon Mary as the pregnant, engaged but not yet married, young woman. However, the Gospel of Matthew shares the story of Joseph. This emphasis is not intended to undermined the significance of Mary as the Mother of Our Lord or the undeniable bond between a mother and her child. BUT, I do want to acknowledge the fathers, especially adoptive and step-fathers who have raised and/or are raising children who are not their own…
But, I may be getting ahead of myself.
Joseph was a man engaged to the young Mary, who informs him that she is pregnant with child despite the necessary relations between them OR her with another man.
Joseph does not believe her, which honestly I can understand.
Yet, Joseph (and we) should trust Mary regarding her own sexual life.
Joseph did not desire the shame brought upon himself, so he plans to end the engagement. BUT, he also did not desire to shame Mary, and therefore will dismiss her quietly rather than publicly.
Well, that was until Joseph is visited by an angel in a dream.
The angel reminds Joseph of that infamous prophecy in Isaiah and shares the plan of God for redeeming all of humankind and the entire creation.
This plan from God is rooted in unconditional love that extends well beyond our imaginations…
- God, who according to the Gospel of John is LOVE, will be conceived through the willingness of Mary and the power of the Holy Spirit.
- This LOVE will be born in human flesh and bone, not in a palace but a humble manger to a young woman, who is engaged to a man who is not the father.
Joseph will have the vocation and its responsibilities to raise Jesus the Christ as his own son.
Unfortunately, I have known the reality that biological fathers may not be present for their own children as my biological father has not be present in my own life.
Unfortunately, it can be further challenging for a man to be present as an adoptive or step-father to children who are not their own.
Fortunately, there are men such as my (step) grandfather and Joseph, who father children who are not their own with a deep LOVE that does not recognize the difference.
Further, let us not forget, Joseph was chosen to father not only a child not of his flesh and bone BUT the Messiah, God Incarnate…
I am confident that the Christ children could be a challenge and cannot envision the struggles with the Christ teenager.
BUT, Joseph will LOVE Jesus with the depth of a father.
This LOVE, whether between a parent and child or God in human flesh and bone, is the powerful force that defies all logic, reason, and natural law.
This LOVE is the light that will not be overcome by the darkness.
This LOVE is what we are called to reflect in all our relationships, whether biological or not.
This LOVE is what we are called to reflect to ALL PEOPLE, especially the “least of these”.
May Christ’s light of Hope, Peace, Joy, and LOVE remain with us this season and always.