Sunday, December 19, 2010
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25
He was really hurt. Joseph found out his fiance was pregnant with someone else's kid. He knew this would embarrass everyone -both families were in an uproar. Joseph figured a way to save face and to keep his dignity by getting rid of the problem. Mary was the problem and so he had made arrangements with another man to take her, a man who was desperate to have a wife and a family, and who lived far off. He would take Mary on a trip and return without her. He would tell a sad tale, a tale of robbers and mercenaries. And his name would be intact as would hers. A religious man, he didn't want the shame that came with this disgrace.
Many times in our lives we face ethical and moral dilemmas that challenge our generosity and our spirit. We know we should forgive and understand, but some people's behavior and harsh words can hit us to the core. We tremble with anger and hurt and ask God to get rid of our troubles. To Joseph's troubles, God sent an Angel, to reassure him that God was working through even these most horrible circumstances. He was asked to live through these horrendous challenges for the sake of God's love, love being born to the world. Flesh of our flesh and bones of our bones. Oh, how he must have trembled with anger and fear, feeling incapable of bearing the burden, incapable of bearing the shame, incapable of forgiving Mary and her seeming indiscretion. She looked to all the world to be a very bad girl, and God told Joesph to trust and love her anyway. And so from his willingness to forgive Mary and trust God, we have the greatest love story ever told, a husband who protects a fallen wife and love born to all the world through his sacrifice and forgiveness.
Today, I want to live with the hopeful vision that in the midst of mid-winter's darkness and gloom, amidst the troubles in the world and in our lives, I might find forgiveness anew in this time and place. I want to emulate Joseph who did God's will despite the outward shame and ridicule. I want to be a bearer of Christ in my part of the world.