I'm imagining what it must have been like for Joseph. Here he is leading his family to the town of his ancestors, his pregnant wife is about to give birth.
I can imagine him leading the donkey along the path to Bethlehem. Mary is sitting on the donkey with all their belongings. Her hands are rubbing her belly and she is looking up at the night sky. Joseph also looks at the sky, still amazed by the number of stars overhead. He is thinking back over the events of the last nine months; finding out his virgin girlfriend is pregnant, being visited by an angel.
He wonders if this could all be real, or maybe it was a dream. And if it was a dream, when would he wake up? If it was a dream, would his friends and family still look at him funny every time they gathered?
But he knows this isn't a dream. This is his reality.
Would the birth of his son quiet their whispers? Would it erase their judgmental gaze?
I imagine Joseph being worried, nervous, and scared for what was to come.
His thoughts of the future are quickly replaced by his present.
Where would they sleep that night? Where would he take his wife if she goes into labor?
The timing of the census could not have been worse.
His life was in chaos.
There just wasn't enough time.
He was too busy.
Little did he know that by morning, by breaking dawn, everything would be different.
Joseph was committed. His commitment was made evident by his willingness to stay, to stick it out with Mary, to trust in the Lord, and to be the husband and father that he promised he would be.
There's no room at the inn.
There's no room anywhere.
Joseph must have felt like a terrible provider for his young family. If he couldn't find a place for them to sleep, how was he going to be a father figure to God?
Joseph doesn't give up. He finds a small manger and prepares the space the best he can. By now Mary must know that it's her time. The young couple comes to terms with the fact that they are going to have a baby that night, in a manger, surrounded by animals, and with no help from anyone.
And though the text doesn't give us much to go on as far as the delivery of Jesus, we know that it wasn't going to be much different than a normal deliver. God decided to enter our world as a baby, and so we can assume that he was born as any other baby is born. It was painful. It was messy. It was scary. There were tears.
But in the end, there was a baby.
It was a miracle.
When Joseph next looked up at the stars in the sky, he did so as a father. The thoughts of what his friends and family might think disappeared when he looked into the eyes of that baby and felt pure joy. The first time he held it he knew he'd made the right decision to stay. He knew the angel of the Lord was real. He knew this was no dream because there was no way he could have felt so much love in a dream.
In the breaking dawn, the first cries of our savior filled the air. It was a new day. The light pierced the darkness. Unbeknownst to the world, everything had just changed. God had entered the world as a baby to show us how much he loves us.
Being in a relationship with God is much like that night for Joseph.
There are a lot of unknowns. People will doubt you. It can be painful, messy, and sometimes scary. There will be tears. But in the end, the light will prevail. You will find your breaking dawn moment. You will experience pure joy, and unimaginable love.
Have a fantastic Christmas, and we look forward to seeing you in 2016. Check out Blake's message on Breaking Dawn, and join us back at the Shuffleboard Club on the first Sunday of the new year.