Law and Grace (19-12-20)
Bible Reading: Matthew 1:18-21
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.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
"Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins."
A small confession: I am one of those annoying people who, much to Helen’s disapproval, drives the wrong way around supermarket carparks, occasionally getting pipped at by other motorists. I work on something I remember from school maths, that the definition of a straight line is ‘the shortest distance between two points.’ In my defence I would argue that I am saving fuel (I’m sure carparks are in league with petrol stations) and therefore helping to save the planet.
I don’t think Joseph would have driven the wrong way around a supermarket carpark; we are told that he was faithful to the law. Finding that Mary was pregnant, and knowing that the child was not his, though, he was compassionate and chose to break the engagement quietly rather than have Mary stoned to death, which would have been another option.
That was until he had a visit from the angel who told him that what was conceived in Mary was from the Holy Spirit, and that it was right for him to take Mary as his wife. You know the end of the story. The grace that Joseph showed gave the Son of God a secure family in which to grow up and led to the greatest act in the history of time, the salvation of the world.
I wonder how many times there are when we get hung up on rules and regulations, and fail to recognise what God is doing through his Holy Spirit?
Sometimes the grace of God takes us beyond our pre-conceived ideas, away from our preferences and outside our comfort zones, to discover new truths and wonderful blessings that God has in store for us.
As St Paul says, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.’
Let us not limit, by mis-placed legalism, what God’s grace can do in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Instead let us be led by the Holy Spirit to discover all that God has in store for us.
O Lord open my eyes, that I may behold your glory.
O Lord open my ears, that I may hear your call.
O Lord open my hearts, that I may know your love.
O Lord open my lips, that I may declare your praise.
O Lord open my lives, that I may reveal your glory.
Holy Spirit, living breath of God