If we would have had church today all four of the colored candles would have been lit. The candle for today is called the Love candle and when I read the gospel scriptures in the lectionary, I got the connection. It is Matthew 1:18-25, and is the story of Joseph as he finds out that Mary is with child, but they are only engaged and have not been together. He has a decision to make about what to do with this unfaithful woman. He could have her stoned for infidelity, he could put her aside quietly and basically sentence her to a miserable life because no one of any status would ever want her again, or he could accept her and whatever child she brings to the relationship. Well, Joseph is visited by an angel and told that the baby is not human, but from God. The angel instructs Joseph to take Mary as his wife and protect her and the child because he has been asked to do so by God. Now first off this takes lots of faith on his part to accept this explanation, but he does accept it, and he does a good job of taking care of both of them.
What Joseph does in this story as he listens to the angel and accepts his role is to set an example for all of us. Granted we probably haven’t had an angel stop by telling us what God needs us to do at this time in our lives, but I am guessing that even if we did, we probably wouldn’t admit it to anyone. Sometimes we know what it is that God is asking of us and still we hesitate because it really doesn’t fit into our idea of what we have planned for our lives. Joseph was just a poor carpenter who had finally taken a wife, and here he was being asked to accept this baby, and later we will see how he has to hurry this new family out of the country to save the boy from a horrible slaughter by Herod. Joseph is obedient, faithful and frankly pretty darn brave in what he does to be a good husband and father. Mostly though, Joseph shows us what it means to love. Joseph loves his wife, the son that was given to him to raise, and even more than any of that, Joseph loves God. He loves God enough to believe the messenger that comes and speaks to him and to obey the instructions he is given.
Our tasks in this life are varied, but the main role we all have is to be an example to the world about what it looks like to have the love of God shine through us. Like the fourth candle that we light this week, we should also be the beacon that points others to the love that God has for us. This is the last of the Advent candles before we light the candle which represents Christ. We need to live so that others will want to know about the Christ that we believe came to earth as a child born of a virgin and raised by a carpenter to die on the cross to save us from the powers of evil.
The secular world is counting that from today there are seven more shopping days until Christmas. As Christians we should see it as seven more days of opportunities to share the story of God’s love for the creation. We have seven more days before this Christmas to share our light of hope and peace and joy and love to the world around us. It is important that we do so at every opportunity. There are so many in the world hurting, uncertain, confused and alone. Be the light that others need. Be God’s life line for someone today. May God’s blessing be with you.