Christmas Advent Day 8: Preparing for Blessing
But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21, ESV)
I love the lead-up to Christmas. To me, the weeks (months?) prior to December 25 are almost better than the day itself. I’m a huge fan of Thanksgiving week. I love the food, the time with family, and (for the poor unlearned that don’t know any better) the “beginning” of the Christmas season. It’s only fitting, I suppose, to spend that time being thankful for every blessing we have received from the hand of God just as the Christmas season is beginning, because just about a month later we celebrate the greatest blessing and gift this world has ever been given. Maybe I should spend that month wisely, then!
I’m not sure how much time passed between Joseph’s dream noted above and the actual birth of Jesus. But can you imagine knowing the blessing that was to come? We typically keep our gifts to the recipient a surprise. It’s part of the fun to see the look on their faces when they receive something great that they didn’t expect. But Joseph knew in advance the magnitude of what this Child would bring. One conceived of the Holy Spirit? The One who would save His people from their sins? And what a name—Jesus—the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua! Joshua brought great blessing to the Jews, leading them into the earthly promised land of Canaan. But Joseph would be blessed with One who was much greater than Joshua. He would have the honor of holding his Son, Jesus, who would lead His people into the great eternal promised land. How awestruck must Joseph have been to hear this news!
I’m writing this at a time when I, in particular, need to be freshly humbled as I count all the blessings God has given me. Too often, instead of focusing on the rest of the road, I focus on the temporary speedbumps of life, such as the unexpected bill that, in reality, because of the Lord’s blessings, isn’t the end of the world, even if it can feel like it. I forget the words that Paul wrote, challenging us as Christians to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In truth, I have been blessed beyond measure with an incredible family, friends, employment, health, material things, and more. Foremost, though, I have been blessed with the gift of eternal life. This is a blessing that cannot be taken away. When Jesus came to “save His people from their sins,” He came for me! He has forgiven my sins and given me an eternal home in Heaven. How can I allow myself to lose sight of that?
As I write this, it is the week before Thanksgiving. Our decorations are up, and the tree will come after Thanksgiving. I’m listening to Christmas music. I’m preparing myself, and I am honestly so excited for this Christmas season. I look forward with great anticipation to the blessings to be received, Lord willing. It may come in the form of a new Need to Breathe or Twenty One Pilots record (hint hint), but those are pretty small compared to the rest of the blessings I’m preparing for. In a dark and often depressing world, I’m hoping this Christmas season provides an overwhelming sense of light to my own world. God has given me such a wonderful family and friends, and this time together presents a fresh opportunity to reflect, give thanks, and rejoice in the warmth of these great blessings.