Opening Prayer. God, for those places where we do not know the weight of suffering or pain, we ask that you would grant us courage and empathy to love and be with others, embodying your great love to the world. AMEN.
Scripture. Matthew 1:18-25 (NRSV).
18 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. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 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. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Not My Baby. Not My Body. From Rev. Sara Wilhelm Garbers.
When Andy and I miscarried in December, something amazing happened. I’ve said it this way, “I knew that I liked Andy before, but now…there’s not question left for me about how much I love him.” The reason for this?
Well, in the midst of a grief that his own body didn’t experience,
he turned towards me.
He wept with me.
He held me as I cried.
And he looked at me with such love in his eyes that I knew that no matter what, he was by my side.
And in this season, in a new way, I think of Joseph and what it meant
for him to be so FOR Mary that even though the baby wasn’t his, and even though his body was not the one who carried Jesus….
He showed up.
He was there.
And in some—so many ways—this is the call of love. Not a call to fix or to understand everything, but a call to be WITH and FOR each other.
And is this not the love we celebrate at Christmas? EMMANUEL. The God with. The God FOR us.
THIS is love.
May we be this kind of love to one another and be with and for each other…whatever grief or joy befalls us. AMEN.
For Further Consideration
Closing Prayer. God, continue to birth in us the capacity to love as you love. Open our hearts to receive your Spirit and to be your presence and people in the world and to other another. AMEN.