|Ramapo Reformed Church
100 Island Road
Mahwah, NJ. 07430
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother,
and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you … Then Joseph got up, took the child and his
mother by night, and went to Egypt
– Matthew 2:13-14, NRSV
We live in a world where without realizing it, we find ourselves to be spectators rather than participants.
Most of us end up watching sports rather than participate in them as our children do. We are more apt to
binge on a cable food channel than we are to host a holiday dinner. Some of us would rather window shop
than choose to work a garage sale. Even when reading a good book, we are essentially a spectator in the
story rather than participating as one of the active characters.
In turning our thoughts to the Christmas story, Mary and Joseph found themselves in exactly the opposite
situation. Seemingly with little warning, both of these religiously observant, well-meaning children of the
promise of Abraham were planning a new life together when God intervened. Practically overnight, Mary
and Joseph went from being spectators of the prophecy of the coming Messiah to becoming active and even
primary participants. Needless to say for this jolting life change, they did not have an adequate frame of
reference with which to understand all that was happening. Nevertheless, God was with them and guided
them each and every step of the way, even though they did not always know what that next step would be.
In thinking about our own experience of Christmas this year, perhaps God is looking to inspire a change in
us as well, even as we are both participants and spectators at the same time. We participate as we prepare
our hearts and homes for this wonderful holiday, and we observe as we soak in our traditions and the
traditions of others as the day draws near. That being said, perhaps God is looking for a new level of
participation and/or observation on our part this year. I am thinking about trusting God in areas of our
lives that we have previously kept to ourselves. I am thinking about transforming our points of view so
we might interpret and perceive the world around us more from God’s point of reference rather than our
own. I am thinking about those of us experiencing a difficult time facing uncertain days ahead for which
we have no frame of reference of our own. In all of these, may we take comfort and inspiration from Mary
and Joseph who experienced all of this and may we know that God will be with us even if we do not
always know the way and path ahead.
As a result, whatever level of participation and observation you may be inspired to have this year, may the
Advent and Christmas holiday season find you healthy and well and in a good place in your walk with
God. We invite you to join us as you are able and look forward to sharing the joy of Advent and Christmas
as we celebrate the arrival of Emmanuel in our lives and in the world together!