In a bacon and egg breakfast, the chicken is involved, but the pig makes a personal sacrifice.
Now, I'm not saying Joseph was a chicken, but his initial decision about ending his relationship with Mary was a safe one, for him. He decided to do right by Mary, but when it was over, Joseph would walk out of Mary's life. Joseph's decision would end the rumors, the jokes his co-workers told behind his back on the job site, and his family's disapproval.
Mary would be someone else's problem.
He was only human, after all.
I know there are times when my attitude is, "I couldn't care less." Caring costs too much. It costs me time and resources that I may not be able to afford or be willing to give. It requires too much emotional investment at a time when I'm too tired, too worn out to share myself with others.
Caring is risky. It makes me vulnerable to rejection and getting hurt. It opens up my heart, touching old wounds. It's easy to love when I'm loved in return. It's so much easier to care when it benefits me in return.
I'm only human, after all.
We're only human.
And God is love.
Love that doesn't count the cost.
Love that takes risks.
Love that makes us God's top priority.
God didn'tt kick Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, padlock the gates, walk away, thinking, "They're someone else's problem, now." God continued to be with them, committed to reconciliation of the relationships that were broken by sin.
When we turned our backs on God, God continued to love us. Using all the resources of theKingdom of God, God pursues us, wooing us with songs of grace -- love and forgiveness. God knows there's a risk of rejection; God knows us, and still God loves us.
God is love, love that is willing to be vulnerable and to make sacrifices . When the time was fulfilled, Jesus the Emmanuel, God-with-us, was born in human flesh. Not in a palace or in the the disinfected comfort of a modern, American maternity ward, but in a stable with the livestock. After all what is more humble, more vulnerable and helpless than a newborn baby lying on the straw of a feeding trough ... or a dying man nailed to a cross.
God's love asked Joseph to make a personal sacrifice for the sake of God's mission to bring salvation to all humankind. He was told to go ahead and take Mary as his wife, to raise God's son as his own and to endure the snide remarks and the disapproval of his family. He was called set aside his own interests and his own plans and make Mary and her unborn child his concern.
In the darkness and tragedy of this world, it is so easy to just close our hearts and let "it be someone else's concern." Suffering is complex and senseless, and in this global age of communication, the information overload often overwhelms us, leaving us in shock and feeling powerless.
Yet, through Christ, the light of God's love continues to pierce the darkness, opening the hearts of God's people and asking us to love despite the costs and the risks. God's love calls us to make others our concern, giving the best of ourselves to them in compassion and caring.
When some probably gave up on Lyric and Elizabeth, we and other people of faith in easternIowa continued to support their families and keep them in our prayers. After the shooting atSandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, the faith communities in that town came together in prayer and in compassion. Nationally, God's people joined them in their own homes and churches. Across the internet, a time of silence was called for on Facebook and other web sites.
Each of these victims was someone's child, someone's friend. The love that opened our hearts to Christ and made us God's sons and daughters, opened our hearts, and we made these strangers and their families our children, our friends, our concern as we wept with and for them.
In the darkness and tragedy of this world, the Christmas miracle continues. The light of God's love through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, continues to pierce the darkness. Christ the Emmanuel asks us to be his light bearers. May God keep our hearts open to the cries of others, and may we hold Christ's light high, walking with and leading others out of the darkness.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Pastor Lanette S. Van, is the pastor at the following churches:
Brandon United Methodist Church
507 Main St., Brandon, IA
Sunday Worship: 11:15 a.m.
Garrison United Methodist Church
105 Sycamore Ave., Garrison, IA
Summer Worship: Saturdays, 5:00 p.m.
Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church
216 E. 4th St., Vinton, IA
Sunday Worship: 8:30 a.m.
Pastor's Cell: (319) 651-9408
Pastor's E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." -- Lamentations 3:21-24