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from the West Wing

Have you ever really thought about the Christmas story? I mean, really thought about it? Sure, we all know the basics. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem. Jesus is born. Angels appear to the shepherds and they go to see the baby. Wise men follow a star and present gifts to the child. There it is; the simple story. “Unto Us a Child is Born.”

But I started thinking about how some of the main players might have felt during this time. What we can read in the Bible is just a few verses, actually took place over a span of many months and even years. My thoughts went to two of the main characters, Mary and Joseph and I began to wonder how all of this affected them. Today I would like to share some of my thoughts about Joseph.

We know that Joseph was a carpenter by trade and that he was betrothed to Mary. The Bible does not tell us how old he was. Scholars give a range of possible ages from late teens to possibly 85 – 90 years old. Regardless of his age, the marriage was undoubtedly an arranged one and the two may not have known one another very well.

So, here we have a carpenter of unknown age engaged to a young woman he may or may not have known well. At some point before they are married, Joseph finds out that Mary his betrothed, is pregnant. Again, the Bible doesn’t tell us how Joseph found out, but I would imagine that Mary probably told him. Can you even imagine that conversation? The Bible is very clear that they had never had sexual relations. Joseph must have been one extremely confused man! However, it is at this point we do get a glimpse into the character of Joseph. The Bible calls him a “just or honorable man”. He must have wrestled with the news. We could speculate that he did know Mary and even that they had made many plans together for their future. If that were the case, this news must have been even more devastating. He would have felt betrayed at the most intimate level.

The Bible also tells us that Joseph was “unwilling to put her to shame” and planned to break their engagement quietly. It is possible that all this transpired early in Mary’s pregnancy, before she went away to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Regardless, before Joseph broke his engagement to Mary, an angel of the Lord visited him, told him to take Mary as his wife and shared with him that the baby she was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was indeed God’s son. Joseph’s response to this news is truly amazing to me and I think it speaks again of his true character. The Bible tells us that he took Mary as his wife and they “did not come together” until after her baby was born. Joseph must have been a great man with a great faith in God!

Since the Bible is silent about so many aspects of this part of the story, I think it is worth putting ourselves into Joseph’s shoes and realize that he was no different than we are. He must have felt betrayed. He must have felt confused. He must have wrestled with what to do. I believe that any emotion either you or I could imagine was probably part of his experience. But, in the end, he heard from God and chose to do what God told him. As I think about that part of the story, I am challenged to do the same. Truly, there are times in all of our lives that we struggle and that’s ok. Hard decisions do not come easily. But in the end, after the struggle, we must always do what God would have us do.

 

Thanks for listening again.

 

Conquering in the struggles,

Mrs. West