It’s Christmas Eve and I am contemplative. I am thinking about that first Christmas so long ago. How the characters in that story had no idea how it was all going to play out. That one day, 2,000 years later, I would be remembering and celebrating the birth of their son. No, I don’t think they really had a clue. I think they were taking one step at a time… one tenuous step… one painful step at a time. For us, we celebrate a wondrous and happy event because we know the ending. But they didn’t know the ending. They probably had no idea how it was all going to turn out. And at times, they must have feel overwhelmed, frustrated and confused. Sometimes, I think we forget what it must to have been like for them…. for Mary and for Joseph.
It really wasn’t a pretty picture. Mary was young. Possibly as young as 15. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph. Her life was taking shape. Her dreams of a family were coming true. And then the angel came. Telling her that she was going to have a baby. She is obviously taken back. She was a virgin. How could it be? But it was to be. So, she takes off immediately to see her cousin in another town. She stayed there 3 months and then returned home. This is NOT looking good for her. Quite the opposite. I mean, she goes away and comes back 3 months pregnant. It doesn’t take a genius to put this one together. Not for her family, not for Joseph, or anyone in town.
Mary tells Joseph the story. He is ready to end it. But God comes to him in a dream. Tells him that what Mary told him is true. Joseph, God love that man, takes her as his wife. Knowing full well that people would talk. They would call Mary a whore. They would call his character into question. He would either be a fool for believing her or a liar because the baby was his. But he does it. He choses a path that few would take.
I don’t know how they did it? To know people thought such damning things about you when in truth, it was the complete opposite. They would never experience, in their lifetimes, the vindication of everyone knowing the truth. No, they would carry the burdened of false accusations and condemnation.
But they did it. They walked down that road. They bore the pain and the unknown. They trusted that God would make it right, in His time, in His way. That is faith. That is trust.
So, this Christmas, I thank them. I thank Mary for allowing her life to go down a totally different road than she had planned. For enduring insults and accusations. For carrying the baby that would ultimately set us free. I thank Joseph for being faithful. For persevering when things surely seemed grim. For doing the ‘wrong thing’ in his culture and taking in a woman pregnant with a child that was not his own. Thank you for giving me a beautiful Christmas gift.