Hope at Christmas: Throughout the month of December, Tides will follow PCI’s Hope at Christmas theme, with Bible reflections written by the Moderator and others. It has been another difficult and challenging year for society including our churches, so we want to acknowledge the hope we have as Christians and to share this message of joy, far and wide. To access the full suite of Hope at Christmas resources click here.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
REFLECTToday many people live together before they get married. In ancient Israel, people got married in the eye of the law before the lived together. ‘Betrothal’ at the time of Jesus took place before witnesses. If the man died before he had managed to take his lady home, she was regarded as a widow. To break a betrothal was more like the trauma of divorce than the regrettable ending of an engagement.
To Joseph’s total alarm, he discovered Mary was pregnant. Knowing he was not responsible and fearing the worst, yet being a ‘righteous man’, Joseph resolved not to make a public spectacle of her but to act gently. Kindliness and gentleness in the face of perceived scandal is rare, but Joseph’s patient godliness proved to be absolutely correct.
There is a sign on a wall close to where I live which reads: “Be kind to one another. You don’t know what they are going through”. Unanticipated hope would yet emerge from this unexpected ‘scandal’.
Reflect on the words of Philippians 1:27: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”