One of my FAVORITE Christmas songs has the following chorus.
“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays, ‘Cause no matter how far away you roam, If you wanna to be happy in a million ways, For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home!”Home for the Holidays - Songwriters: Al Stillman / Robert Allen
In preparation for this season of Advent, I am reading Matthew chapter 1 and the corresponding chapter from Isaiah chapter 7. When reading these two chapters together, I think its fair to say that Stillman’s song hits a home run for Biblical theology. See below:
“Ask me anything you want, from the lowest low to the highest high, anything you want” – GOD
“No thanks God, I will not pray, not to you. My friends have left, my neighbors have left, the whole world is upon me, in fact you are upon me. I don’t think I will endure you anymore”. – Ahaz
In verse 14 we receive another beautiful stroke of Grace. God grants a sign to a man who refused it. “You don’t want my mercies, so you shall receive them”. For Ahaz, this sign was not about Mary, Joseph or baby Jesus. Instead it was about life from nothing and God’s intimate presence when the world in failing. I think God’s message to Ahaz might have sounded like this.
“Ahaz, I know you feel abandoned and afraid (Verse 2), but don’t fear (verse 4). I am the God who makes the impossible possible. Your Kingdom is being used to testify my glory. While it might get darker, I will always be with you. In fact, that is my name. The “With You God”. You are not alone!”
Now we turn to Matthew 1:18-25. Joseph wakes on morning and discovers his “wife to be” is pregnant. But not from him. WHAT! He is having an Ahaz moment. I think of the beatles song Yesterday.
Yesterday, All my troubles seemed so far away, Now it looks as though they’re here to stay, Oh, I believe in yesterday. Suddenly,I’m not half the man I used to be, There’s a shadow hanging over me, Oh, yesterday came suddenly.Songwriters: MICHEL JEAN PIERRE COLOMBIER, JOHN WINSTON LENNON, PAUL JAMES MCCARTNEY - Yesterday lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Just like Ahaz waking up to find an invading army at his door step, Joseph wakes up to the disintegration of his future. The difference for Joseph is that the sign is now manifested in reality. The promise of Life from brokenness is solidified in the real birth of Jesus Christ. I think God’s words to Joseph might have been something like:
“Joseph, I know your future life and family appear destroyed (verse 18). But don’t fear (verse 20) I am using this brokenness to give you a forever family (verse 21). In fact, that is what I do! I take broken things and make them into forever homes. I am the chief architect and I am building something amazing through you.”
While this is a wonderful promise, life for Joseph and Mary was still hard. But that is the nature of faith and promise. Which brings us back to the beginning. “There is no place like home for the Holiday’s”. The message to Ahaz, Joseph and Us from God is: I am making you a forever home where you will know community and security. In this world you will experience trouble, BUT DO NOT FEAR. My name is “The With You God” and “I make homes from nothing”