Great Expectations
Christmas is the season of great expectations. Yes expectations are high…between the parties, presents, dinners and family…it all should be leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. But with all the anticipation, it starts to feel like an overdue engagement. And after a while, the excitement turns into exhaustion…we just want it to be over.

Interestingly enough, these feelings of excitement and exhaustion existed long before department stores started decorating in October (or rather September). Joseph felt quite similar when he found out Mary was going to have a baby. Matthew 1:18-23 says,
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.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Can you even imagine being Joseph? He was about to marry the love of his life and he finds out that she’s pregnant. Too long ago? Imagine that happening today. It wasn’t too long ago in the United States that if a woman got pregnant before marriage, she was sent away to have the baby in privacy… and it was much the same way (even more taboo) then. 

So there Joseph is, confused and scared. It would have been easy for him to send Mary away…or marry her now and later divorce her after the baby is born…he could have even thrown her under the bus, but he didn’t.
Matthew 1_18 RS
But you know that’s not how the story goes. Matthew 1:24-25 says, “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” Joseph obeyed God’s calling though…he loved Mary, he protected her and he played the part that he was called to serve. 

What does this mean for us? How do we, like Joseph, do right by Mary and the child she carries? It’s not too late for us to get Christmas right this year…so what choice will we make?
PS: this message was adapted from Salem United Methodist Church’s Sunday message.