While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream.  God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married.  Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived.  God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant.  She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus— ‘God saves’— because he will save his people from their sins.”  This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:
Watch for this— a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; 
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

Matthew 1:20-23


Christmas is tomorrow and I am finishing up the lists that I thought would never get finished.  The gifts are wrapped, everything smells so good and the kids are so excited.  There’s just nothing like Christmas!


In the middle of the ham and potatoes, the gifts and the lights of the tree, there is Jesus.


“Only He who has experienced it can believe what the love of Jesus Christ is,” wrote Bernard of Clairvaux.


If I were to take all the stories of the family of Jesus, I could plop them on a timeline.  Abraham, Joseph, Ruth, Jonah, Habakkuk, Mary.  Of course there are hundreds in between that I missed, but eventually we would come to Jesus.  The Messiah.  The one who had been promised and who they had been searching for all these years.  He came from a line of cheaters and liars, of prostitutes and rebels.  There was sorrow, bitterness, grief and stubborn hope in the lives of those whose blood ran in His veins.


His life and death and resurrection changed the course of History forever.  Not just because He came, but because He came for you.


On that very first Christmas, there were shepherds watching the very sheep that would be sacrificed for the sins of the people.  But a new way was coming, and He had arrived!  It’s recorded that the shepherds hurried to see Jesus, then they spread the news as fast as they could. Their hearts were kindled. Years later, after Jesus had died and was resurrected, He appeared to a few of His disciples as they were walking from one town to another, only they didn’t recognize Him for a very long time.  When their eyes were opened, they looked at each other and exclaimed, “Were not our hearts burning within us?” (Luke 24:32).


Lean in, my friend.  This story is for you, in your emptiness and fear.  In your broken promises and tension of the season.  The family tree of Jesus didn’t end with Him.  He has grafted you in.  There’s a place for you.


Just like Habakkuk, when we resolve in our hearts to praise Him, even in the midst of our hard places, He promises to hear our cries.


Just like Jonah, when we run from God, He calls us to Him in ways we cannot expect.


Just like Naomi, He takes our broken hearts and our deep bitterness and He gives Himself as our Kinsman-Redeemer, handing us new life and healing.


Just like Joseph, He gives us the strength to choose forgiveness and what was intended to harm us turns to good.


And just like Abraham, when we open our eyes to the hurt of the world, we suddenly see that our lives can be a blessing to others, even in our grief.


This is the story of Jesus.  Feel your heart burning within you and grab ahold of it.  The tree will soon come down, the lights will return to the tote in the basement. But because of Jesus, you have been given the True Light.


Jesus, the hope of the world, has come.
Merry Christmas.