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I thought I might do a little something, this year, that would help me focus on what this season is really about, and maybe it could help you, too. I’m going to take the story of Jesus’s birth, found in Luke 2, and go verse by verse, 1 through 24, to see what happens. Here we go…

He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. ~ Luke 2:5 NIV

Scandal.

Very possibly, your first thought upon hearing that word, here in 2015, is Olivia Pope, Fitz, and the Gladiators, cast of the show that I, for one, will never watch again after the lowest of the low, last disgusting episode. Gross. No thank you.

But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about Mary, mother of Jesus, who was pledged to be married and expecting a child. Mary, who was an unwed, pregnant teenager in a time when purity and virginity were held as a prize to offer as a wedding gift. Mary, who was tasked with trying to convince everyone around her, including her fiance, that she was still a virgin, but had essentially been knocked up by the God no one had heard from in 400 years, or ever, in all of time, laid eyes on.

(Well, unless you count Moses who, when he asked God to “show me your glory” got a glimpse of Him from the back. But that’s a different story.)

That, my friends, is scandal, or at least grounds for commitment to a mental institution.

But, after a visit from an angel, Joseph – wonderful Joseph – chose to believe her. He chose to play a role in something bigger than either he or Mary could even begin to grasp, and faced the certain ridicule from their families, friends, and community right along with her.

So, when the announcement came to return to Bethlehem for the census, he gathered her up and hoisted her nine month pregnant self onto what I hope was a sturdy donkey, and they began their journey into destiny.

When the angel, Gabriel, originally came to Mary and told her of God’s plan, this was her response: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” When the angel came to Joseph in a dream, when he’d originally had in mind to quietly end his relationship with Mary, he responded, immediately upon waking, by doing as the Lord commanded and taking Mary as his wife.

Immediate obedience on both their parts. No questions. No argument.

“May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Would you have responded in kind? Would any of us?

Certainly, God equips us with the strength to handle anything He assigns, but it takes full on obedience on our part.

Scandalous obedience.

Even when it’s scary and hard, it might just be worth taking a lesson from Mary and Joseph and partnering with the God no one’s seen, in faithful obedience. Because you know what comes of that kind of partnership?

Amazingly scandalous love.

 

I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. ~ John 15:9-10 MSG