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Mission: Impossible. best supporting actor, role model. Christmas, 2023.




I continue to look at the historical figures and facts that surround the birth of Jesus, marveling at the details of the old familiar story. The more I learn of young Mary, the greater my admiration for her-- strong, faith-filled, wise beyond her years, and courageous. [I hope you read or listened to the last Morning Briefing - much we can apprehend for our own lives. [https://conta.cc/3RtBDe0] She who birth the Son of God, nursed him at her breast, and changed his nappies, surely smiled wistfully as he was learning to walk, her mind full of future things.  Ah, Mary.  But what about the one who rolled out his knapsack beside her every night, what of Joseph? Joseph's life took a dramatic turn, to say the least, and he simply does not get enough credit for who he was and what he did.  


To set the stage for this briefing, take a couple minutes and watch this impactful short video, would you?  Social Network Christmas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sghwe4TYY18


Yes, there would have been societal and familial consequences for the announcement of this baby to be born. Scripture is not clear how Joseph first learned of the baby, but it was some time after the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary. I am thinking Mary surely told him before she made the 70-mile journey to Elizabeth’s home in the hill country outside of Jerusalem?  How I wish the conversation between Joseph and Mary had been captured!  Where were they?  Betrothed couples were not together very much, and alone--hardly ever.  How did Mary tell him?  Did she cry as she relayed to him what the angel Gabriel had announced to her?  Oh, my. Wow, wow, wow.  


With the news that Mary was expecting a child, Joseph had a tough decision to make, but then he has an angelic visit himself, though in a dream. From Matthew we learn

 “Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 

 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” 


Step a little closer to see what we learn about the man God chose for Jesus to call 'Abba'. Joseph was a righteous man, why, he was from the line of David! Likely someone a neighbor referred to as a 'good Jewish boy', and he was full of mercy.  Why, he could have had Mary stoned for her ‘obvious’ indiscretion!  Instead, he chose to let her go away into obscurity, that is until Joseph too had his life changed by an angelic visit.  


His mission - should he choose to accept it, was to parent the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah. Otherwise, he could put Mary out of his sight, and go on living his quiet little life in Nazareth, choosing another maiden--though this one a chaste girl!


On the other hand, by saying 'yes' to God, his reputation will be ruined. "Everybody in that shame-and-honor society will know that this child was not born nine or ten months after they got married; they will know she was already pregnant. That would mean either Joseph and Mary had sex before marriage or she was unfaithful to him, and as a result, they are going to be shamed, socially excluded, and rejected. They are going to be second-class citizens forever."2 


Knowing all of that, in spite of what it would mean, Joseph accepted his mission . . . he stepped up and embraced Mary and her holy child. He responsibly took care of them, taught Jesus his trade/craft and raised him to be a God-fearing, law-keeping observant Jew. He was unselfishly obedient to God, doing what He wanted him to do.


What is your mission. for. God? Impossible to fulfill unless you are in his presence daily. And then, like Joseph, we ought ask 'what is the right thing for me to do with my life? How can I say 'yes' to God today? How can I make choices that will honor him?' This it what we learn from Joseph, the man God chose to raise and nurture our Lord.


Thoughts from his heart, Joseph's song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT4VDAIaMwU


Pondering these things in my heart,

Christine



1 - Matthew 1.19-25

2 - Timothy Keller, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ, 2016.

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