Reflection 3: Making ready

Our third advent reflection considers how Mary and Joseph reacted to the promises spoken over them.

Luke 1.28-31, 34-35, 38-41

28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus...”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God...”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1.18-21, 24-25

18 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. 19 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.

20 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. 21 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...”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

The familiarity of the nativity story can make it easy to brush past these verses without pausing to notice how Mary and Joseph first reacted to the promises spoken over them.

These two individuals, who were likely just teenagers, were probably feeling fairly settled about their future. Mary had secured an engagement to someone who cared for her, which would ensure her safety, protection and value in a deeply patriarchal society, and Joseph had chosen a faithful worshipper of God to be his wife. Things were looking great.

And then the bombshell drops.

God wanted this couple for a specific, significant calling – something that will change their lives and the lives of those around them forever – but it would cost them dearly.

To step in to what God had planned for them they would have to swallow their pride, accept potential ridicule and scorn, set aside their own expectations, and fully submit every part of their lives. It’s understandable that at first Mary is terrified and doubtful and Joseph is hurt, intending to cancel their engagement and distance himself from the whole thing.

Yet as they open themselves up to God’s intentions and let go of their own, they are both reassured, and however much of a challenge is before them, they both willingly accept the opportunity to be part of God’s plan.

This advent, God continues to call His people to be part of His plan.

Obviously, raising Jesus was a one-time thing, but now we are all called to emulate the example of love, acceptance, submission and sacrifice that Mary and Joseph set. This will be unique for each of us, but we believe that for many people this will include opening our hearts and our homes to vulnerable children by fostering, adopting, or supporting families.

If this is you, the idea might well leave you feeling similarly to Mary and Joseph.

Mary was scared and confused. She couldn’t understand why God had chosen her and how it could all happen. She was probably doubting her capacity, her ability, her strength, maybe even her heart. Joseph was hurt, disbelieving and, ultimately, trying to get out of it. He wasn’t going to risk his reputation and status by raising another man’s child.

But having been reassured of God’s promise and God’s presence, both Mary and Joseph chose to follow His plan and their subsequent responses are a great example of sensible preparation and making ready.

Mary went to visit someone who would understand and support her. She didn’t talk to just anyone, but she found someone with character, heart and awareness, who would be open to what was going on.

Joseph committed to his relationship and brought Mary into his home, and although we don’t know this from the Bible text, we can imagine that as a carpenter he was careful to make sure their house was ready for the new arrival.

Both Mary and Joseph honoured the arrangements that had already been made, but then prioritised what God had asked them to do. As well as practically preparing, we also know from Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2 that Mary and Joseph continued to focus on God, worshipping Him and being open to His promptings.

If you are considering fostering or adoption, why not do as Mary and Joseph did? Build a support network around you, sharing the plan with people who can help and encourage you. Practically make your home ready, and if you are part of a couple, commit to keeping your relationship strong and healthy.

Recognise where you already have commitments – other children, work, financial obligations – and honour those that require your continued time and attention, while establishing how you will move towards caring for vulnerable children and all that will entail.

And most importantly, keep focused on God. This will not be an easy journey and will take more strength, love, resilience and sacrifice than you can imagine. Hold on to your faith.

Home for Good is keen to support you on your journey towards fostering or adoption. Call our enquiry line on 0300 001 0995 to talk to someone about any aspect of the process.

Home for Good

Date published:
December 2016



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