CLERGY CORNER: God Surprises

Posted on 26 December 2013 by LeslieM

Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

(Matthew 1:23)

One of the least recognized lessons from Joseph in the Christmas story highlights the importance of change; the willingness to change when we should, stay the course when we should and the wisdom to know the difference.

We all have “God surprises” from time to time and it goes without saying that Mary’s surprise is unmatched in the history of humankind. The divine delivery speaks for itself, but Joseph took a good jolt himself and he eventually did exactly what he needed to do.

Change is hard once we are invested where we are, once we are invested in where we think we’re headed. How does the saying go? “The more we care, the longer we’re there, the less likely we’ll dare to change!”

You don’t have to live very long to learn the greatest blessings in the world involve God surprises. We had one of these God surprises and big changes in our family over Thanksgiving when our middle child announced she was going to have a baby.

How cool is that?

Talk about a big change that leads to a little blessing and a little blessing that that leads to a big change. Some of the more emotional people in my family get all teary in the eyes when they hear about this sort of God surprise. I only required a small towel…

Christmas is a great big God surprise, although it shouldn’t have been a surprise at all given the predictions… You know the story. Joseph and Mary are betrothed. They have wedding plans and they’re excited as any young couple would be. The families long-since approved. Nazareth is a small town. Word gets around.

Joseph and Mary are mentally, emotionally and personally invested when Mary turns up with child. Joseph may have been teary in the eyes, too, given the story told that Mary is still a virgin. How could that be true?

I personally think it would have been great if the angel appeared to Joseph back when the angel appeared to Mary. Gabriel could have just held a little premarital counseling session with the two of them and let them wrestle with the news about the baby together.

But God surprises have a way of happening the way God wants and not the way we want! And we’re left to wonder and believe, or not .

There is disbelief in Joseph’s first change of plans, which is to quietly send Mary away. This remains his plan until Joseph is shown an angel of his own. With the help of the angel, Joseph eventually has the right frame of mind. He changes when he needs to change and stays the course when he needs to stay the course. Ultimately, Joseph does what all of us are supposed to do. He uncrosses and opens his arms to the will of God.

Pray for God surprises in 2014, little blessings, big blessings and maybe even an angel or two to give us the wisdom and willingness to change when we need to change and stay the course when we need to stay the course. But be prepared to be a little teary in the eyes because God knows sometimes it takes a good jolt to change…

Reverend Dennis Andrews

Reverend Andrews is a minister at Community Presbyterian Church of Deerfield Beach (Steeple on the Beach) located five blocks south of Hillsboro on AIA. See more at www.comm or on Facebook.

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