A Great Holiday Read: This Christmastime What Would Joseph Do?
Keith A.Viveiros, Conservative Read
On this Holy Eve of Christmas as we so busily hustle and bustle about our frantic last minute preparations for the holidays to come , I felt to compelled to write my first column of I hope many. I hope you may find inspiration and thought provoking interest in the underdog of the Nativity and most any other major event in the Lord Jesus’ life. I must first give credit to Rev. Rachel Small-Stokes, Associate Pastor at Union Church-Berea for her sermon on Sunday morning that got me thinking much more about this awe-inspiring little known character by the name of Joseph.
As is well known, the Nativity of Jesus is described lovingly in the Bible and read and recited yearly during Advent so as to remind us of the amazing power and love that God bestowed on the world by sending His only Son to earth to live and die among us to “save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray”. But what I felt in my heart needed to be contemplated was the power of compassion, trust and loveÂ from Jesus’ “other father”, Joseph for what he went through so we might be saved. So here we go.
Joseph, of the noblest of bloodlines (of which to name a few were Ruth, King David, and wise King Solomon), was betrothed to Mary, a maid considerably younger than himself, was found by him to be with child even though they had yet to marry and have marital relations. In light of this revelation and befitting his status and obligations under Jewish laws and customs of his time, he planned to quitely leave her so as not to have the poor girl stoned to death. That night when he had decided this , he was given a dream where an angel appear and told him “do not be afraid” to take Mary as your wife and raise her Son, placed in her womb by the Holy Spirit, who is to be named Emmanuel or “God With Us” . And so when he awoke, he did this.
Now as idylic as this all sounds, he took a BIG risk by marrying an already pregnant Mary, whose child wasn’t his, and became a pariah in the community in which he lived and went from a noble, respected law abiding citizen to a “law breaker” and that must have had some impact on him, but ultimately his choice lead to a greater good to outweigh any doubts , and I am sure he had many, he may have had about following the advice of the angel in the dream.
In the ultimate joy of the Nativity story, while on the census journey to his hometown of Bethlehem, his very pregnant wife was about to give birth and to add insult to injury, I am sure no one forgot about the “disgrace of his marry her”, there was no room in the inn or anywhere else for them but a lowly stable manger and it was there that the Lord Jesus, Messiah of us all, Savior of the world as his name means was born, Hallelujah!! But of course Joseph’s journey was just now beginning, he now had a family to provide for in a foreign land, where no one was around of kin to rely on for all of Jesus’ formative years, how hard it must have been being just a lowly carpenter and having SO much to live up to.
I think all of us can relate in some way to Joseph’s plight and that is why I thought it so timely to write about it with the flurry of media surrounding religious tolerance issues and tortes against this one and that ,all in the name of God. These just serve as secular obstacles to blurr the vision of the real reason for the season of Advent and holiday of Christmas and we need to just stop and use the now famous acronym WWJD, but substituting Jesus for Joseph, it somehow humanizes fully the sacrifice of love and compassion we need to have to “live and let live, love and receive love” and make the sacrifice to take the risks in the name of the Lord, but also to make them wisely for compassion and love.
His stroy though ultimately is also that of all the refugees without a home or anyone to rely on but the kindness of strangers and “a hope and a prayer” as the old adage goes. Let us “rabble rouse” to shake up an apathetic nation, but let us do it not by isolating others, but like Joseph, making the decisions that include everyone for the sake of inclusion in the name of love and compassion.It is our charge as good Christians and citizens to what is right even if it truly risks everything worldly you have, your family, your friends, your possessions, your support, all in His name because the Kingdom is not of this world and Joseph believed in that from that little crazy dream and lost EVERYTHING in the process to follow through with his decision based on the angel’s word.
So too must we all remember that the Christmas spirit and allure at this time is not about things and being right or rightous because it’s our right and inheritance as followers of the Lord, but it is about taking risks to be wrong by the world’s standards, but right by the Lord, as long as it is Always based on LOVE.
One final note I would like to add is to wish you all a Merry and Blessed Christmas season and I hope these thoughts provided you with some inspiration to be an inspiration for the good and noble cause of love and inclusion at the risk of being wrongÂ even if that means giving up your last loaf of bread to that hungry and out of work family or leaving anonymous tips and donations, paying it forward because you never know who may be “knocking at your door” in need of a place to stay ,as the Holy Family as refugees did , a kind word, a compassionate ear and heart, or just plain love . As the Lord said of the commandments: “the greatest of all these is LOVE”. Amen to that.