Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Matthew 1:18-23 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah[a] 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,”
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
which means, “God is with us.”
Today is the first Sunday in the season of Advent and we begin the season with the first part of the story of the birth of Jesus from the gospel of Matthew. It is one of the few places in the gospels that focuses on Joseph. Joseph and Mary were engaged and had not lived together. When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, he loved Mary and didn’t want to disgrace her, so he quietly planned to break off the engagement.
As soon as he had made up his mind to do this, he had a dream and in that dream a messenger from God appeared to him and assured him that he should marry Mary because “the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” More than that, he revealed to Joseph that the baby would be a boy and that he would name him Jesus. Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua and the Hebrew root of that name means to save or to rescue. That’s why the angel says, “you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
So, Jesus is savior. There is another name the messenger gives, quoting the Hebrew scripture: “They shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.”
We begin the Advent season with the Good News that God comes to us in Jesus, who saves us from sin and also saves us for abundant life and in order to be a blessing to others. In this season we celebrate the incarnation—that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19) and that we, as the church, the Body of Christ, are called to incarnate the love and grace of Christ in the world today.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster