Not long after I joined St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis I took on the ministry of leading children’s chapel. I loved telling bible stories to children and listening to their responses to them. The Fourth Sunday of Advent approached and I began to dread telling the story of the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Most of it had to do with all of the questions that flooded my mind and heart about the story, and the extent to which I projected the asking of those questions onto 4-6 year olds. Of course the questions all had to do with how did Mary get pregnant?
Finally, I took all my fretting to the rector who gave me the following piece of excellent advice, although it didn’t feel like good advice at the time, “Just tell the story”. Sunday came and all I could do was to tell the story. To my delight and surprise what so many children were so delighted by was the news that Mary had a baby, that Joseph loved her and supported her. Many of the children were taken with how God spoke to Joseph in a dream and as avid dreamers it opened a whole new world of possibility to ponder about the nearness of God. No one asked a single question about Mary’s pregnancy.
As adults we often worry about so much that in the end is of very little importance. I will always be grateful to my then rector and those children who invited me to worry less and perhaps by doing so leave some space for God to work in me and in others. Joseph went to bed beside himself with worry about his pregnant bride-to-be. In the morning he awoke empowered by God’s dream of how it is that God is with us, Emmanuel. As we journey to Bethlehem this Advent closes with the invitation to dream the dream of God.