Devotion and Prayer for Week of December 23, 2012

Meditation for the Week December 23, 2012


But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”                                 -Matthew 1:20-21

Joseph grew up a devout, religious man.  The Scriptures tell us that he made regular trips to Jerusalem during the high holy days to worship in the great Temple.  There, Joseph knew what happened.  At the Temple, animals were sacrificed.  Countless sheep, cattle, goats, and birds were killed and their blood was spilled out before God.  Why?  For the forgiveness of sin.

Joseph brought animals himself so that he would receive God’s forgiveness.  Joseph knew the 10 Commandments; he knew the Law…and so he knew his own sin.  Joseph was keenly aware of the mistakes he made.  Joseph was haunted by the shameful choices he made.  Joseph was no stranger to harsh words or impure thoughts or greed or fits of anger or laziness. Joseph hurt people and he transgressed God’s Law.  And because of Joseph’s own sins, he brought these animals year after year after year for his entire life; hoping that God would accept his offering and forgive his sins.

So what the angel said to him must have shocked him.  The baby born of Mary would save Joseph and all people from their sins?  No more lambs brought to the Temple?  No more blood spilled upon the altar?  No more wondering and hoping?  The angel gives the good news:  the baby to be born of Mary is the one who will end the sacrifices and the fear and the doubt!  The baby would be the eternal source of forgiveness.

Joseph was keenly aware of his sins, and you are keenly aware of yours.  You can think back to the events of your life.  You know the people you’ve hurt.  You know the things you’ve done.  You know what thoughts you’ve entertained.  You know about all the good you could’ve done, but decided not to.  You know these sins…and now the angel makes known to you that Jesus forgives those sins.  You don’t have to make your own sacrifices; you don’t have to try to beg God or cut a deal with him; you don’t have to sit and wonder.  The Lord promises that all your sins are forgiven through Jesus.  Believe it!  Take joy in it!  Wonder at it!

For God’s love for you is so great, that this day, he gives you salvation though Christ Jesus!


Our Weekly Prayer

O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  Grant that as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.