Those who turn to Jesus Christ, and accept his promise, begin to open our mouths with a new song, a song that tells of the pit, of the muck and mire of our making, and then sings the tune El gives. The song, the life, the story then belongs to him and we are the happy beneficiaries of his promise, heirs to the kingdom of heaven, children of God.
I believe Joseph knew waiting required obedience–active participation in the will and ways of God. And we are all the grandly grateful recipients because Joseph listened and obeyed and believed he would indeed “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. That gift, that goodness lay in the rosy lips and rounded cheeks and bright, innocent eyes of the baby he would hold and give the name Jesus. It was because of Joseph’s commitment and parenting that Jesus learned the word, Abba, Daddy.
Joseph obeyed. Joseph stayed. Joseph: the unsung hero of our Christmas story. Just an average Joe. Extraordinary.
It’s important to remember that Mary is continuing to obey God, to live according to her declaration that she is God’s cooperative servant, in the midst of tremendous inner turmoil. She is walking along a path lit only step-by-step. She cannot see the tunnel, let alone the light at the end of it; she is walking obediently through the chaos of each moment, the what-if’s of right now.
In this dark season of terror and despair, to a people caught in the mire of the gloom on the brink of defeat God says:
He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
He will meet every need of everyone. He will reign in justice. Violence and oppression will be a thing of history. Forever and everlasting peace.
We could use that hope, too.
Christmas plays and pageants, movies and books, present the nativity story in much the same way: Mary, very pregnant and sitting on a donkey; Joseph, leading her gently and trying to negotiate a room with an innkeeper; the stable, filled with animals and a soft glowing light; a fringe of haggard-looking shepherds at the stable door…. I think we’ve got a few things wrong. Sure, the main characters of the story are the same and the main events are the same, but some details have been blurred by the westernization of our retelling the nativity story. As I’ve pondered again this amazing opening scene of Jesus’ life story as a man, I’ve wondered at the nuances of context and culture that maybe we’ve failed to recognize. So I’ve been reading about the culture and times surrounding Jesus’ birth, tried to recognized and re-think the events in the context of this information. Here’s a little bit of an idea, a new way to think about Jesus’ birth. // Mary shifted her position and popped a pomegranate …