Trust and Obey
By Pastor Jerry Donovan
Have you ever become suspicious of your GPS? You’re following directions to a destination where you have never been. Then you’re directed to make a turn that just doesn’t feel right, in an area of the city that doesn’t look right. The directions keep coming, but they don’t seem to be on the right path. It is hard to keep trusting that phantom voice telling you how to get to your destination. We might want to give up. Or turn it off and “use the force, Luke,” which often means just do what feels right. And that is a recipe for disaster more times than I care to admit.
God gives Isaiah a sign, “…The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 NIV Isaiah may or may not have known how God intended to use this sign a few hundred years later, but we Christians, of course, hear something more profound in that promise. Or can we?
Joseph couldn’t. At least not at first. On his own, he was planning to walk away. Trusting his own wisdom, he was on the brink of saying no. No to his marriage, no to this wild story, no to playing a secondary role in the story of salvation. He wasn’t going to make a fuss, but he was going to say no.
The funny thing is, Matthew tells us in chapter 1 that: ”9 Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately.” The problem was that those two things clashed, at least they used to. Calling people righteous meant that they were obedient to the law. And the law called for public disgrace, at least as it was practiced at that time, so that the shame wouldn’t rest on Joseph and his family, but on Mary and hers. So, though he had resolved to dismiss her quietly, he was at war within himself as he went to sleep that night.
It was in this inner conflict that the dream came and the angel spoke. And suddenly Joseph knew what to do. Joseph woke up and did it. Did what? He went against the law in favor of love. Or maybe better, he went against a rigid interpretation of the law in favor of the covenant between people and God.
He decided to trust in the leading of the Spirit, to trust in the journey of faith. He trusted enough to name the child Emmanuel which means God With Us, which is the eternal invitation.
You are invited to join the congregations of several churches 6:00 PM Tuesday December 24 at First Methodist Church 204 Houston Street for a Candlelight Celebration of Carols & Scriptures.