Who is your favourite person in the Christmas story? Mine is Joseph. I think Joseph was one of the most amazing people in the Christmas story and we hear so little about him. Here was a man who willingly gave up his life, his reputation, his livelihood and even his family to look after Mary and the promised child. We know he gave up his family because when he arrived in Bethlehem for the census a culture that is known for its hospitality did not have room for a relation and his pregnant wife. Part of the story we don’t get in our closed nuclear family world of today. But it was something that those few words that spoke of “no room” would have spoken to the audience it was written for.
I wonder how God showed up to Joseph. It could not have been full on angel vision with lots of trumpets and things because the whole town would have known and would have believed. Again we can so easily forget the way towns were in those days and how doors were open and everyone lived on top of each other, knew each other’s business, and didn’t have to put up with all the noise and light pollution we have just got used to. Though again with that in mind I wonder how Mary spoke with the angel and was impregnated. Probably much more subtly than we could imagine.
Anyway God managed to find a way to speak with Joseph in way he understand, listened to and believed, which caused Joseph change his mind about divorcing Mary and leaving her to possible stoning to totally looking after her. He took her with him to Bethlehem even though she was heavily pregnant. He would have already presumed that his family there would not welcome him in because news would have reached them that this girl was pregnant before they had wed. But by taking her he protected her from any harm that may have befallen her back in Nazareth. He was then being willing to move down to the Jewish community in Egypt to save the life of this child that wasn’t his.
Would we have been able to do this? To give up all including our reputation for something we don’t know to be fully real? But also why do we not honour Joseph in the way he should be? Why is he such a minor character? I think there needs to be more sermons focused on Joseph and the understated, Godly way he behaved as an example to us all.