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THE ENCOURAGEMENT
of  Joseph & Mary
The Christmas
story of 'angels' and 'wise men' associated with the birth of Jesus, which has been part of European Christmas celebrations for centuries, was not originally meant to have been part of any public event.
Both events, separated by about a year, were tightly focused on a lonely and very vulnerable couple.
 
From
Nazareth in Galilee, Joseph with his heavily pregnant wife, had been forced by the Roman taxation decree of the time, to make a difficult journey southward through Samaria into southern Judaea.
Luke 2:1-4.
Arriving exhausted at Bethlehem's only inn in the final hours of his young wife's first pregnancy, there was no accommodation available to Joseph.
If God
cared – could this not have been better arranged?
 
 
Unlike us, God has a larger view of the circumstance which challenges us, and has appropriate resources beyond limit.
 
Alone
in the dark of that night, Joseph helped his wife through the birth of her first child, wrapping the new-born in strips of cloth in an animal feeding crib.
 
 
There was no midwife present such as the Israelites had enjoyed in their Egyptian captivity!
No sanitary support; just the best that a peasant couple could manage in the flickering light of a cattle stall.
 
Did
this seem unfair in the light of the angel's awesome declarations –
to Mary before her impossible conception, or to Joseph after his discovery of his fiancé's pregnancy? Yes, certainly...
Luke 1:3-37;
Matthew 1:20-21.
Then
came the shepherds!
Men of the lowliest occupation; men asleep with sheep, awakened awestruck by an angelic choir in the sky and an announcement of this incomprehensible event.
 
What
was certainly a humiliating shame to Joseph, laying Mary's first-born in an animal feeding trough, was to these angel-shocked shepherds the messianic sign.
"And when [the shepherds] saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them."
Luke 2:12.
So,
those whose late arrival had deserved nothing but an animal stall –
were suddenly celebrities in the same inn!
 
 
Joseph later found better accommodation in Bethlehem for his little family, but, at a time that the Child was a toddler discovering everything within reach, some seriously important visitors arrived at their home: Magi from the mountains of Persia.
 
 
Their story of a star was strange, but they gave expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
 
 
After their departure from the town, Mary and Joseph's lot seemed to have dramatically improved with such a major financial contribution, but a shock awaited them. In the dark of that night, Joseph is warned of a coming attempt to kill Mary's Child and instructed to leave immediately for a foreign country, Egypt.
 
 
Packing quickly in the middle of the night to head south through the desert was not easy to explain to Mary, but Joseph did it. That unexpected money, that would have made their life so much easier in Bethlehem, was now an essential for their journey as refugees to a foreign place.
 
These
two episodes – of the Bethlehem shepherds, and the Persian Magi – were not simply events to publicize the coming of the messiah. They were God's wise grace reaching into the personal world of this newly married couple's life, to provide a quality of encouragement that did not consist of a changed circumstance but of a sovereign and superintending love from on High, from above any circumstance that they would ever need to face.
See:
The Real
Father Christmas
 
This is not written simply because it happened. Nor is it written to add celebratory events to our Christmas calendar. These episodes are described to tell us about God, to tell us how He responds to our circumstance, because He cares!
 
He,
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, does not change!
 
 
He is upon the Throne of our universe – to fulfil His good and gracious purpose in each of our lives – and to this end He brings all circumstances, even the most unwelcome and wicked, into subjection to Himself for those who hear Him with trust in their hearts. Hallelujah!
 


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