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Advent Reflection Week 2: Joseph

Have you ever had a really big decision to make, and you just wished that God would put a
big sign in the sky telling you what to do? Perhaps you have had to make a decision, and just
as you make up your mind something happens to send you off in a different direction.

Poor Joseph had been torn apart. He was engaged to a wonderful young lady that he loved
so much. He was looking forward to life together with her but received news that she was
pregnant. She said it is a child from God, but that didn’t make sense. Mary must have been
with another man. Joseph thought long and hard, and finally decides to end the relationship,
in a way that will keep Mary safe, because he really does love her.

But then Joseph was visited by an angel in a dream. The angel reassured him that what Mary
told him was true, that this is a special child from God, and he should take Mary as his wife.
Joseph woke up and did just that.

When we read it now, it seems so easy. This amazing angel with wings turns up in the middle
of a dream and tells Joseph what he must do, and he jumps up and does it. But stop and think
for a minute. It’s sometimes too easy for us to treat the Christmas story as a fairy tale with
amazing things happening. It almost makes it like the story is set apart from us.

Think about your dreams, I know that I have some strange dreams. My mind works over
various things and sometimes deals with the issues I am thinking through during the day. So
it would not be unusual that Joseph has a dream about this situation. Also, the Hebrew and
the Greek words for angel also means just a messenger. When we think of angels we think of
big winged beings. But the Bible never actually says that angels have wings. So we can’t be
sure what the angel looked like in the dream. Perhaps it was a big winged angel with a mighty
sword giving Joseph instructions. Or maybe it was just a messenger from God, in the middle
of a strange dream that talked to him.

Joseph had to be brave to follow these instructions. He had to believe that what he heard was
indeed a message from God. He had to trust that he was making the right choice for this
situation. Joseph sometimes gets lost in the Biblical story. He is just sort of tagging along. But
Joseph makes a brave decision to follow the message of God and to stick with Mary.

In our lives we need to be open to listen to those messages from God, so that we can be sure
of our path. As someone in ministry, I know that my call, felt when I was in year 12 at school,
is so important. When I am not sure of what I am doing, or if I am the right person to be doing
it, I remember back to that message which God gave me and remind myself this wasn’t just
my choice. It helps me to step forward.

I hope that you will remember the ways that God has talked to you. Write them down, keep
a record so that they can give you confidence in the days and years ahead. God is talking with
you, God is guiding you, he is just hoping that you will be listening.

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