In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus, we see that, early on, Joseph had a difficult decision to make. Mary, the woman to whom he was betrothed, was pregnant with a child not his. Assuming infidelity, Joseph planned to divorce her, but to do so privately so as to cause her less social stigma. Betrothal was not marriage, but it was a stronger commitment than our use of engagement, today. Betrothal required divorce, of sort, to be broken. However, things were not as they appeared. Mary had not committed any act of fornication. So, God intervened and took responsibility of His actions concerning Mary’s condition. God virtually told Joseph, “The baby is Mine. Take Mary as your wife.” Joseph did so. And, in doing so, Joseph shared in whatever stigma may have been shown toward Mary. For in the eyes of society (which seldom, if ever, knows the circumstances) Joseph was saying, “The baby is mine, conceived before marriage.” Grace never calls us to sin. “What?! Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” Paul writes. However, grace does call us to embrace difficult circumstances and the people therein. After all, “While we were still in our sin, Christ died for us,” Paul proclaims. Fellowship was once defined as two or fellows in the same ship. Jesus boarded the ship of our affliction of sin in order to release us from our deadly cargo. In doing so, He had to get dirty with our dirt. Accomplishing that, His grace transfers us to the old ship of Zion whose home port is called heaven. It is the only ship allowed to dock there.
What is God’s grace calling us to embrace at Aldersgate; calling you to embrace personally? Heaven only knows, but time will tell, if we take time to listen and embrace what God brings our way. -- Ben