Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Advent IV

The readings for the fourth Sunday of Advent are here.
This year we focus on Matthew's story of the birth of Christ. Luke focuses on Mary but Matthew focuses on Joseph. Joseph goes to bed after a hard day of learning that his intended bride is pregnant and trying decide what to do to preserve his honor and still be compassionate towards Mary. He makes s decision to put her away quietly- maybe like those girls in High School when I was young (so many years ago) - who went away to visit an aunt for 9 months and then mysteriously returned to resume life as though nothing had happened.

Joseph falls into a deep sleep perhaps the sleep of escape from the trials and anger and sadness of the day. As he sleeps Joseph dreams of an angel who gives him a surprising message that will turn his life upside down if he acts on the message. The shift from one day to the next for Joseph is stunning. When have we had such a dramatic change of heart and mind - 180 degrees? Going along thinking life is constructed in one particular way and then having something happen where we are never the same again. How do we live into this new way of being? On the other hand what sorts of things change us like this -- angels? new knowledge? new experiences where the old data no longer fits?

Looking over the whole of scripture there seems to be a lot of changes of mind and heart. God changes his mind after an argument with Abraham. Also in the desert with Moses and the Israelites. Paul after his encounter on the road to Damascus, Peter and the Gentiles, all through the Bible - God and God's people change their minds more often than not.

Not preaching Sunday but this is what intrigues me: dreams, changes, reversals, surprising times for those who choose to follow Christ. Most of all it reminds me of the song Rainbow Connection sung by Kermit the Frog.

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