2016 Advent Devotional

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Prepare to be Deceived
Tuesday, 12/20/2016

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[Mary’s] husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

Matthew 1:19


Betrayal is a term synonymous with deception, specifically in regard to one being unfaithful to one’s partner. Mary was engaged to Joseph when, “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 1:18). You can imagine the betrayal Joseph must have felt. Biblical law called for capital punishment in such a matter (Deut. 22:23-27). Though at this time, death was not the typical punishment for adultery, there were severe consequences and immense shame for those found guilty.

Joseph held the power to ensure Mary received her due punishment. As a “righteous man,” surely he would pursue the traditional, if not biblical, law to assure justice. But this is not Joseph’s response. Even before the angel appears to him (v.20) he decides to “dismiss her quietly,” upholding Mary’s dignity. Joseph, like John the Baptist, gives us a glimpse of what is to come. Joseph shows us what mercy looks like, even in the face of betrayal, a narrative that will be all too familiar for Jesus the Christ.


God of great mercy, thank you for those who embody your compassion. May I learn from the example of Joseph, as I strive to be more Christ-like. And may your mercy inspire me to be merciful.


How can we be in prayer with you?
Please let us know!


  1. When was a time you received mercy, when you deserved punishment? What feelings come with such an experience?
  2. How can your Advent experience prepare you to be more merciful?

Family Corner

Daily Scripture

“’Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’”

Matthew 2:2


Gather up some blankets and head outside this evening to gaze under the stars.

Imagine what it must have been like for the wise men to know in their hearts what the star meant.

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Highland Park United Methodist Church
3300 Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, Texas