Many people know I am a big fan of classic country music. If I had to name my favorite artist, I would say Johnny Cash. Hands down. I don’t think anyone has a better handle on the human condition than Cash.
When I was younger I played music. Traveled around the world leading worship and played my share of rock and roll around North Louisiana. Once I was part of an event at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. For years this stage was the home of the Louisiana Hayride. The coolest thing about this…Cash played the hayride plenty of times.
You could stand in the middle of the stage and imagine all of the stars standing right there. Elvis was on the list…but he doesn’t matter to me that much. Cash matters. I stood there. He stood there.
Any connection I have to Johnny Cash is sketchy at best and only exists in my own mind.
I think many times we act about God like I think about Cash. We have a mild connection with no real relationship. We know there is an exchange of facts, but no real relationship.
It isn’t supposed to be like this.
Our scripture this week is from Matthew 1. Joseph is visited by an angel and told the real story behind this baby his knocked up future wife is carrying.
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
The angel reminds Joseph of the prophecy about the future Messiah. The basic identity of this person will be the incarnated presence of God. God bends down to humanity and offers himself up, in incarnation for the sins of all and as the man named Jesus for the sins of the individual.
God came to save us. Plain and simple. What he desires out of us is a personal recognition of this. It isn’t an intellectual recognition, but an experiential one. He wants to really know us.
Chad Brooks - January 5, 2014
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