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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas-Gloom or Glory?

Standing in the checkout line waiting her turn to pay for the Christmas gifts she had picked out the women blurted out to the person in front of her, "I can't wait 'til Christmas is over!" This is the not the sentiment we expect at Christmas, but this is how many feel. For some Christmas brings memories of hurt, loss, or loneliness making it an unwelcome depressing time. Still others caught up in all the devastation, degradation, and disarray in our world see Christmas as a foolish sense of false hope. Unfortunately Christmas is a season of gloom for many people.

It must have been much like that for Joseph; at least at first. Matthew tells us in the first chapter of his gospel that Joseph was pledged to be married to Mary. In his day the engagement was as binding and sacred as the wedding vows. Surely he was excitedly awaiting the wedding day when his betrothed would become his wife. But his anticipation turned to agony when he found out that Mary was pregnant. He knew that he wasn't the father. His world caved in. His fiancee had been unfaithful. She had brought disgrace to both of them. His heart broke. A glorious celebration turned into heart breaking gloom.

But, God came to Joseph. He came into the midst of his disappointment and pain, bringing news that transformed everything. The situation did not change, but Joseph was given eyes to see through the gloom to the glorious gracious reality - "What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21) Mary's pregnancy was not disgraceful, but holy. He could take her to be his wife without any concern or misgiving. After receiving the news Joseph gloried in the Lord and did as instructed by God's messenger. He took Mary to be his wife and when she gave birth to her firstborn son he gave Him the Name Jesus. He and Mary rejoiced along with angels, shepherds, and magi: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests." (Luke 2:14)

What happen to Joseph still happens today. As difficult and discouraging as our times may be right now, God has come to us! As immoral and broken as our world is, God has come to us! The Gospel is still the "Good News," which brings hope, love, grace, and transformation. The hype and commercialization of Christmas, nor all the devastation, degradation, and despair in our world can overshadow the Glory of Christmas. His light penetrates the darkness revealing the glorious reality His love and grace. God's favor is upon us! Christmas is a time to revel with awe and wonder of God's coming to us, giving to us what we desperately need but can never merit or achieve - full salvation. Beloved, let us all join in the celebration. Allow God to give us eyes to see through the gloom to the Glory! "Unto us has been born a Savior, He is Christ The Lord!" (Luke 2:11)

Keep Close To Jesus
Pastor Gerry

A Pause To Ponder God's Word
is written and distributed by Gerald Whetstone, Ordained Elder and teacher in the Church of the Nazarene. These devotionals may be transmitted, duplicated, used in part or in entirety without permission for nonprofit purposes only. Responses welcome.


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