Advent is a time of waiting and wondering – this God with us. We are at the point in Advent when we are looking back and looking forward at the same time. Matthew tells the story surrounding Mary’s pregnancy and the difficulties presented in her relationship with her fiancé, Joseph. It is in a dream that both revelation and resolution come.
Dreams are often discounted, ignored or forgotten in our culture. But in our Advent Scripture passage, and elsewhere in Matthew’s narrative, dreams are often a basic source of revelation from God about matters of great import. Somehow, when our active minds are stilled, the fragments of anxious thoughts and feelings and what we have learned of God all come together in a compelling harmony that offers a living word from the living God.
This God is with us – the One who speaks to us by whatever means available to show us the next step. This God is with us – the One who invites a respectable man to receive a child not his and the child’s pregnant mother as his spouse. This God is with us – the One who chose to become vulnerable to the decision of a man thus placed in a difficult predicament. This God is with us – One who trusted Joseph to choose love and life over honor.
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:18-25
There is a practice in Yoga, and a variety of stress therapies, of tightening every muscle in your body for 30 seconds to a minute, and then quickly releasing the tension. The Advent Action will be a variation of this practice:
Stand; take a deep breath and tighten all of your muscles. As you are tightening, become aware of everything that is tightening in around you and all that you want to do about it. Then, as you release the tightening, commit all of those things and you bodies to God.
In the closing days of Advent, may I be ever more aware of You being this God who is with me. You are this God who trusts me and makes Yourself vulnerable to me, trusting me with choices that are love and honor for myself and those I love around me. Amen.