Posted on: December 19, 2022 Posted by: vudfc Comments: 0

By Kelly Wright

Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of year

by Lee Mendelson

Christmas time is here. Lots of exciting parties, presents, and lots and lots of engagements! According to The Wedding Report’s Complete Wedding Market Report for the United States, 15.5 percent of all engagements take place within the final month of the year. On average, 1,825,743 couples become engaged each year, and that means 282,900 of those proposals happen in December. That explains why our Instagram feed feels more like an engagement announcement section during the holidays. I suppose this trend goes back as far as Christmas does:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18

Mary and Joseph’s engagement wasn’t focused on wedding plans or nailing the hashtag. We don’t know much about their love story, other than that they were betrothed to be married when Mary was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. Talk about moving into a chaotic circumstance.

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:28-32; 38

Because this is such a familiar story it’s easy to romanticize Mary and Joseph’s experience as an engaged couple with such unbelievable news. We often visualize Mary and Joseph with peace and calm, even in the midst of the angel’s news. But in reality, they must have experienced much anxiety and turmoil as well.

Regarding Mary, it’s easy to think the angel’s message must have been the greatest news.

Did the news hold both joy and fear? Was she scared, insecure, and in shock of all that was to come? She was a willing servant for God’s will, but she knew it would come at a cost. She could lose everything: her marriage, her family, her community, and even her life.

I wonder how long Mary held this news before she began all the impending conversations with her parents, friends, and most importantly, with Joseph.

Mary shared her news with Joseph and although he loved her, he had to have logically assumed she had cheated on him. His big question was What do I do now?

He had every right to throw Mary under the bus and publicly disgrace her. That would have upheld his social status. Instead, he decided to quietly break up with her to spare her shame. Handling the matter this way shows that Joseph was a good guy. Even when he thought he had been wronged, he responded with graciousness.

 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-22

Joseph did exactly what the angel told him and took Mary as his wife. Despite the ramifications and how the situation would be perceived, Joseph took Mary home as his wife and took Jesus as his son.

Bob Goff writes, “Be patient when it gets weird. The angels explained things to Joseph after he’d talked to Mary, not before.” 

How different the outcome would have been if Joseph hadn’t been patient and reacted out of his knee-jerk response.

Not only was the announcement of Mary’s pregnancy a hurdle for Joseph and Mary, but the challenges continued for this couple.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

So, Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. Luke 2:1,4

Caesar Augustus decreed a census, so Joseph and Mary had to travel a long distance during her final weeks of pregnancy. Once they arrived in Bethlehem, there were no available rooms, so they found space where the animals were kept. It was here that Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph.

The challenges that Mary and Joseph faced within their story built deep trust in the midst of growth and stretching.

Scott Erickson writes, “The process of growth is always uneasy because growth never comes through ease. It comes through the stretching and expanding of one’s own capacity to push on ahead. The difficulty in letting God grow you is the trust that is asked of you when you aren’t quite clear what the outcome looks like.”

Mary and Joseph faced obstacles together and with God as their source of strength and surrender. As we consider their story, may we also face our obstacles and the chaos of life with God as our source of both strength and surrender; because when we do, we experience calm in the midst of chaos.


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