…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “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.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
This year has been one of unexpected change! Uncertainty, both personally and as a community, has been part and parcel of every day as each of us has adjusted to varying degrees of what seems to have become the ‘new normal’. Social distancing, sanitising, restrictions, lockdowns… These experiences and many like them, whilst perhaps new for us, are certainly not new for our world throughout history. Mary and Joseph were living in the midst of uncertain times: the Roman Empire was ruling harshly, Mary falls unexpectedly pregnant through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, Joseph plans to quietly divorce her, visits from angels and long travel to Bethlehem to be counted in a census. Yet, in the midst of all of this, God promises hope. Life will not always be like this. For unto us a child is born … and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. God brings hope that in the suffering and brokenness of our world, he has worked to restore us by the power of his love and forgiveness through his son Jesus Christ. Last Sunday we started the season of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a time of expectation and reflection upon meaning and purpose in our lives. It is a time to look outside of ourselves to the gift of life God gives to us through the gift of his Son that we celebrate at Christmas time. May you find hope, love, joy and peace throughout this Advent and Christmas season and enjoy a well needed and deserved rest over the break. And may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
Reverend Ben Bleby