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Posted by on Dec 23, 2022

Sometimes things don’t go as expected.

Sometimes things don’t go as expected.

Have you ever had one of those days when you get up in the morning with all sorts of plans and almost immediately they start getting derailed? I think they happen to all of us from time to time. Sometimes the plans can be picked up again the next day. Other times they are simply gone and we have to move on to the next step.

This kind of experience is not unique to people of our time. Ahaz in the eighth century BC was king of Judah. The Assyrians were moving south, conquering any nation that wasn’t willing to be one of their territories. Ahaz had to decide whether to ally his kingdom with that of Israel to the north, which was planning to resist Assyria, or whether to trust God to help and protect his kingdom and its people. The Lord told Ahaz to ask for a sign, anything at all, to indicate that the Lord would be with Judah in the days to come. Ahaz refused to ask for a sign and Isaiah spoke a prophecy of what would be the sign. “The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

Many generations later, a young woman was visited by an angel and agreed to become the mother of a child. The challenge was that she was only engaged, not yet married. The man to whom she was engaged cared about her enough that he didn’t want to denounce her to the authorities as having been unfaithful before she was even married. He decided to end the engagement quietly, so she could go away, have the child, and continue to live. The penalty otherwise could have been stoning.

Joseph went to sleep after making that decision and was visited in a dream by an angel, a messenger of God. The angel reassured him that Mary had not been unfaithful. The child had been conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. The angel told him the name he was to give the child. It was the same name given to Mary for her child when Gabriel visited her with God’s request. Jesus. The angel quotes the prophecy from Isaiah in which the child is called Emmanuel. The name Emmanuel means “God is with us.”

Joseph believed the words of the angel. He took Mary into his home as his wife. This descendant of David became the father of Jesus by choosing to accept him as his son. The ancient promise made to David that the Messiah would come from among his descendants was to be fulfilled. The sign given to Ahaz was also fulfilled.

Like Ahaz, Joseph, and Mary, we don’t always know what will come of the unexpected in our lives. We can only trust that somehow, God is in charge and will make things right.

Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle A