It could not be more etched in my mind. I was sitting in Sainsbury’s cafe Hedge End on Armistice day waiting for a fellow Minister to arrive when just after the cafe fell silent for the two minute reminder of the price of peace, the silence was broken by Bing Crosby singing Irving Berlin’s song, ’I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’. I don’t know if that was intentional or not? Being played simply to have us looking forward to better things? But even if it was (and I personally think the 11th November is far too early for any Christmas song) is a white Christmas as big as our hopes allow us to go?
We all have our dreams, don’t we? Dreams of how we’d like our lives to go. Dreams of what we’d really love to do and achieve. Dreams of who we’d most like to meet and fall in love with. In this sense we are just like Joseph the very ordinary, often overlooked, simple, honest, hardworking person who wanted little more than a white Christmas with every Christmas card he wrote! A wife he could trust, children he could love and a job that enabled him to keep the wolf from the door. That was his dream, until God interrupted him and to start with at least, turned his dream into a nightmare! The woman he loves and plans to marry tells him she is pregnant. His dream is shattered, but whilst he is working this over in his mind, he falls asleep and God comes to him via an angel with something much bigger, something much better. (Matthew 1:20-21) “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Any dream Joseph had of a quiet life, a white Christmas kind of life, where in ‘days merry and bright’ his own plans, purposes and pleasures took centre stage, were gone as quickly as the dream we had last night but had forgotten by the time we awoke. God wanted more for Joseph than he dreamed for himself, and God would do (Ephesians 3:20) “Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power at work in us.” No, we are not being asked to take a young pregnant girl as our wife, but we are being asked to have our worlds upended by Jesus.
The BIG thing for Joseph of course was to play the supporting role in the raising of a child that wasn’t his. He didn’t even get to choose the boy’s name. He simply had to be there for him. God’s dream appeared less than his own, but the truth is that no one can fulfil their potential and be released to their full capacity until they embrace what God wants for them. Isn’t every parent a Joseph? A treasure God has entrusted to us with a mission to support God’s program for their lives? Not to live our life through them or to carry out our wonderful plan for their life, but to love them and teach them in the Lord. Bathing them in His values and boundaries so we grow in our life and calling as we see them grow in theirs.
Our dreams must not be limited to a white Christmas level. Our dreams apart from God are not big enough. God’s dreams for us, when both heard and obeyed, can transform our lives and the lives of those entrusted to our care, in the home, in the community and in the world.
This Christmas remember that God has something BIG in store for us. Jesus has come. He has brought salvation. From sin, yes, but also from a life that is centred in self and finds its reward in seeing others daring to dream in Him too. That first Christmas, Jesus was born to Joseph, so that He might be born in us. He hasn’t given us Jesus to raise, but Jesus to share.
I don’t know if this Christmas will be white or not but I pray that none of us will allow that to be the limit of our dreams. Have a truly Christ centred Christmas.
Your Friend and Pastor