Foolish for Christ
By: Pastor Heidi Pagels
Originally published: December 14, 2021
Begin with 2 minutes of silence
Matthew 1:18-25 (NRSV)
18Now 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 pregnant from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to divorce her quietly. 20But 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. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23“Look, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, "God is with us.” 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife 25but had no marital relations with her until she had given birth to a son, and he named him Jesus.
In the past, as I have read the advent story, I have been enamored with Mary and awed by her deep trust in God. This morning as I read the text, I found myself gazing at Joseph. I see a brave and kind man who chose to go against the cultural norms of his day, as he chose to treat Mary without disgrace. According to the cultural law of the day he must not marry her and so he decides to let her go quietly.
Joseph has made up his mind (and his plan seems good and just) and then he hears from God, ”Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife…” What will he do? Am I able and willing to change my mind when I hear from God? The text says, “when he awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” Could I do that? Would I say, “Okay, plan b?”
Perhaps, instead I might choose to ask others' advice, seek out a wise friend, give myself a long while to think through all my options (don’t be hasty), journal through all my thoughts, and so on? Joseph’s “yes” appears to be immediate and indeed cost him dearly. What did people think about him as they did the math and realized the timing doesn’t add up for Marys’ coming due date and the date of their wedding?
Our “yes-es” may also be costly. Today in our current culture, to follow the way of Jesus we will often look foolish. “We are fools for the sake of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 4:10. Oh, how I loathe looking foolish. God chose both Mary and Joseph because they would listen and then obey - I think those around them thought them quite foolish. What a trust. It so often comes back to Jesus asking, “Can you trust me?”
Question for Reflection
How do I embrace the idea of being foolish for Christ?
Let the noise of this Advent Season recede and may I be still and may my mind be still, long enough to be with You and hear Your words to me. Like Joseph, I want to trust You when I hear Your voice. Help me to say “yes” even if it may be costly.
End with 2 minutes of silence