When God Shows up for Christmas

It’s wedding season, and Mary and her mother have finally purchased the perfect wedding dress for Mary’s big day. Mary and her soon-to-be husband Joseph have completed their bridal party list. The chapel has been picked out, the colors have been chosen, and the invitations for the wedding ceremony have been mailed out. Family, friends, and neighbors are excited to see these two good people finally tie the knot. The only thing left to complete is finalizing their honeymoon reservations. Besides this, everything else is complete, everyone is happy, and the clock is ticking until the day these two young adults can finally say “I do.”

Mary’s dream wedding was going as planned until God showed up. The story of Mary and Joseph has often been an afterthought as the attention has always been centered on Jesus. Though the main character is Jesus, and rightfully so, I believe that there is a lesson that can be taught if we give a little attention to Mary and Joseph. Mary, prior to the impregnation of the Holy Spirit, was a virgin. When Joseph proposed to Mary, he was proposing to a virgin. Can you imagine how shocked Joseph may have been to find out that his fiancée was pregnant? Can you imagine how disheartened Joseph must have been to conclude that the only logical reason for Mary’s impregnation was a result of Mary having an affair with another man? Can you imagine the anger he may have had toward Mary and her unknown “male counterpart”? On the flipside, can you imagine what was going through the mind of Mary who woke up one day to find out she was pregnant? The embarrassment and uncertainty of how she would be perceived by family and friends was unbearable. What was Mary going to do with this new reality? What was Joseph going to do with this new reality?

As Joseph prepared to find a way to separate himself from Mary privately (which also reveals Joseph’s character and love for Mary), the Holy Spirit appeared to Joseph and informed him that Mary was pregnant with the Holy Spirit. The name of the baby in Mary’s womb would be Jesus, who will save his people from their sins. So Joseph took Mary as his wife but he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. In addition to this delay of consummation, they also had to become refugees and escape to a foreign land because the government wanted to find baby Jesus and kill him. Can you imagine these two young adults losing sleep at night trying to answer the question “why me?”

The story of Jesus entering into the world is a story of God disrupting the lives and plans of those God chose. I am aware that during the Christmas season, many find deep delight in thinking about the birth of Jesus or some random white fat guy squeezing through a chimney looking for milk and cookies while providing gifts. But the Christmas story is more than that. It is a reminder that God will disrupt our lives and plans as a gift to the world. I am aware that the Christmas season invites us to create a wishlist of things we want, but the Jesus story invites us to welcome an uninvited guest who is about to turn our world upside-down. So in this Christmas season, as we sing choral songs, drink vegan eggnog, and spend time with family and friends, may we be prepared and be obedient to what mission God is calling us to be a part of when God shows up for Christmas.

Steven J. Brice is a proud New Yorker. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Christian Counseling from Amberton University and a Master of Divinity degree in Missions from Abilene Christian University. Steven and his wife Regina live in Dallas with their son Brian and daughter Brooklynn. The Brices and a few friends are planning to move to Philadelphia to join in God’s mission there. Lastly, the Brice family are the successful owners of Brice Enterprise & Choice A Real Estate Services.

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Author:  Publish Date: December 23, 2017

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The CHARIS website hosts conversations of and about Churches of Christ. In partnership with the ACU Library and the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry at Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX), the website is supported and led by the Center for Heritage and Renewal in Spirituality (CHARIS) at ACU. The Center’s mission is to renew Christian spirituality through engagement of Christian heritage, at Abilene Christian University and beyond. The views expressed on the CHARIS website are those of the various authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Abilene Christian University or CHARIS at ACU. Questions or comments about the CHARIS website can be directed to charis @ acu.edu.

2017-18 CHARIS Editorial Board:
Dr. Carisse Berryhill
Dr. Jason Fikes
Karissa Herchenroeder
Mac Ice
Chai Green
Tammy Marcelain
Molly Scherer
Dr. John Weaver

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