God works in surprising ways.

God breaks into the world with amazing love in ways we never would have imagined or expected.

God might surprise you too, if you open your heart with anticipation.

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This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:18-21

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Hurt. Anger. Betrayal. Fear. I imagine that these are just a few of the emotions that Joseph felt when he learned that his fiancée was pregnant with someone else’s baby. Picture Joseph, lying awake at night – working through options and asking, “WHY?” Finally, Joseph decides not to make a scene. He will break up with Mary quietly to save face for both families.

Then, surprisingly, God sends an angel to Joseph with an unbelievable message: Mary is carrying the Savior, this is God's child, and his name will be Jesus. That’s quite a gender reveal party!

But the message is not all about the baby. The angel offers words of love and comfort to Joseph too: do not be afraid, take Mary as your wife, love her and love this child.

What is keeping you up at night? An angel may not appear in your dreams, but know God is with you, just as he was with Joseph. Do not be afraid, and seek to be open to stepping out in faith and love.

Tracy Hartman

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God, sometimes life is hard and I need a word of assurance from you. Remind me this week not to be afraid, but to trust in you and your plans for me. Amen.

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Now go into the world with hope and anticipation, with your heart wide open to God’s ongoing work in the world.

Tracy Hartman

Tracy Hartman mostly recently served on the faculty of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. She enjoys coaching clergy and serving as an intentional interim pastor. She and her husband Jay live in Richmond, VA.

Still Still Still

Nathan Hanson

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