There is a commercial that features a man in a variety of situations in which he is about to do something he will likely regret afterwards. At each critical juncture, a car horn sounds and he retreats. In one scene we see him playing poker and about to go “all in” until he hears that car horn and pulls back. The commercial turns out to be for a vehicle that has a tire pressure monitoring system that lets you know when you’ve put enough air in the tire by, you guessed it, honking the horn.
In our scripture lesson for today, Joseph also gets a heads up about doing something he will likely regret afterwards. God doesn’t use a car horn, but speaks to Joseph in a dream. God tells him that despite his instincts, he should stick with Mary even after learning the news that she is pregnant out of wedlock. Joseph takes the message to heart and stays, becoming the father of one who will save others.
I suspect we can all think of a time where it would have been nice to have had something or someone warning us that we were about to make a choice we would have second thoughts about later, a choice that hurts another or costs us in ways we did not anticipate. God may not always speak to us as clearly as a car horn or an angel in a dream, but God has spoken to us through the Christ Child and promises to be with us despite our choices, offering us redemption and comfort in the midst of them.