Matthew 1:19-20 – “And her husband Joseph, since he was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had thought this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
Recently during prayer, I was pondering Matthew’s version of the Christmas story. I started to think about the idea of Joseph being asked to take ownership, responsibility, and guardianship over Mary. I was struck with an allegory regarding our relationship with the church.
It has been said that God is our Father, and the church is our mother. The church has been ordained by God to be the carrier, the embodiment, the full revelation of Christ to this world. However, like Joseph, there are times we consider the church to be unclean like Mary, the carrier of Christ; full of disappointments and betrayal. If we are righteous like Joseph, we will quietly put away a church that has hurt us without bringing open shame. While there can be truth to our negative perceptions of the church, perhaps we are also at times overlooking something the Spirit is birthing there. To get to a pure, virgin state, sometimes you have to go through shortcomings and hardship to get desperate for the presence of Jesus again.
Maybe this Christmas, God wants to give us fresh revelation of a new work in His church for us to participate in and take ownership of. It’s a big step of faith because it’s a guarantee of some hardship and messy situations. However, it’s a pathway to being a part of incarnating Christ to a world desperate for hope.
Heavenly Father, my Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for the church that you’ve called into existence as a means of grace to this world. Holy Spirit, help me to see the work you’re doing in and through the church despite its shortcomings. Lead me like Joseph to do my part in bringing Christ into this world. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.