Lots of things worry us. Money. Jobs. Health. Safety. But most people worry about relationships more than anything else.
One aspect of relationships that worry people is whether they’re making the right decision about a life-partner. That’s how Joseph felt that first Advent, having decided to marry Mary and then discovering she was pregnant and he wasn’t the father. He was worried and afraid. An angel visited Joseph and spoke right into the heart of his situation, telling him so clearly and succinctly: ‘do not to be afraid’. Then the angel reassured Joseph of what he should do: he should ‘take Mary home to be his wife’. They should get married.
I’ve been pondering on this simple definition of marriage: ‘to take home’. (It’s obviously important as it’s used twice for emphasis, with the story ending by telling us that ‘Joseph… did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home to be his wife’).
So they got married. Joseph took Mary home. Just one word is used in Greek for this – ‘paralabein’. It could be translated ‘take near‘ or ‘take to one’s self’ or ‘join to one’s self’ or, as translated here, ‘take home’. The idea is being joined into companionship, friendship, relationship and family. Behind the word is the idea of active choice – of taking personal initiative and making a decision. Amy Troolin says that from this one Greek word we learn that ‘marriage is the joining of a man and woman, who form an intimate association, a companionship, a communion, a covenant. These two people take each other on their journey through life. Each one receives the other to himself or herself, accepting the other person totally, and each one does so freely of the will and by a firm personal consent.’ This reminds us that marriage is a beautiful thing. It’s the taking of another into your life. Into your home.
All this reminds us that we need to think carefully about who and what we take into our lives and into our homes. God is interested in these things and wants to guide our choices. If we marry, then the choice of spouse is the most crucial building block for our lives and homes. After that there are many other things that we take into our home that influence them. Our possessions – which help or hinder how we live. Our conversation and the language we use – which shape the people in the home much more we realise. And then there’s the food we eat in our homes – with diet heavily impacting our health and lifestyle. And the media we listen to and watch (films, TV, YouTube, radio) – often constantly blaring in the background in our homes.
Our home represents our life. That’s why who we share our home with is so important. But it’s also important to consider what is in your home. What are we allowing in, this Advent?
As we approach Christmas, let’s look after our homes and what happens there. Let’s be like Joseph and actively choose well this Advent. Let’s invest lovingly and wisely in our relationships. Let’s give time and care to our loved ones. They are precious. And rather than being passive, let’s be active and not allow all sorts of rubbish to shape our homes.
God is interested in who and what you take home.
ACTION: Think about your home and how it represents your life. Take your Notebook. If you share your home with others, write their names on separate lines and next to each one write a couple of things you’re thankful for about them. If you live on your own, look back on the people with whom you’ve shared your life and write 2 things you’re thankful for about each one.
PRAY: For loved ones. Those living with you now. And those living at a distance. Thank God for each one and pray that they would thrive. Then pray for your home. Pray it would be a welcoming place for others. Ask the Lord to guide you about what you allow into your home. Pray that your home this Christmas would be a place of love, not just filled with presents, but filled with His presence.