What About Joseph?

I have posted the meditation below for the past two years. I’m posting it again this year because I still find the character of Joseph fascinating…and I wish more people would talk about him this time of year… 

This Christmas, I have been thinking a lot about Joseph. Nobody really talks about him much. At Christmas Eve church services, we most often hear about the miracle of a virgin birth, and the strength and faith of Mary. Then, we sing and we praise and we rejoice in the greatest Gift the world has ever been given. But what about Joseph?

Joseph was minding his own business, working every day, and about to get married and start a family. Then one day, before he and his soon-to-be wife have ever had sex, he finds out she is pregnant. He could have thrown her out in the street and made a public spectacle of her; but instead he decided to hide Mary away to keep her safe from judgment and harm. That’s the first WOW! Then, in a dream, an angel tells him to marry Mary anyway: “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20b, NRSV). The angel goes on to tell Joseph that the child will “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21b), what he should name him, and that he should still marry Mary. And when Joseph wakes up from the dream, he does everything the angel told him to do. That’s the second WOW!

Are you kidding me with this?! Seriously, if you were Joseph, what would you have done? It is easy for me to look back on this story and say I would have stepped up like Joseph did. But, when I really think the situation through, I don’t know what I would have done. If I were a man about to be married and I found out my fiancé had cheated on me, would I be willing to protect her? If an angel came to me in a dream and told me to do all the things Joseph was told to do, would I wake up and do them all without question? This guy is amazing and I wonder why we don’t talk about him more.

Joseph is just a supporting character. It’s not like the Christmas story could not have been told without him. If Joseph had not done what he was instructed to do by the angel, I am pretty certain God would have worked something else out for Mary. (God is impressive that way.) So, why all this focus on Joseph? Maybe because I feel an awful lot like Joseph most of the time. I often feel like the supporting character in a show that doesn’t really need me in order to have a great outcome. I go to work every day and do my best to be a good person. I communicate with God each morning and pray that He will fill my heart with forgiveness and love and charity. When I don’t feel those things, I try to “act as if” in order to carry God’s message of love and acceptance to others. It is not always easy; as I am sure none of what was asked of Joseph was easy for him either. I wonder if he wondered if what he was doing was going to make any difference at all. I wonder if he questioned his own sanity as he traveled with pregnant Mary to Bethlehem. I wonder if he continued to pray for guidance even after the angel gave him instructions. I know I would have wondered, and questioned, and continued to pray for guidance – even after clear instructions had been given to me.

Today, as I walk through my day, I hope to remember Joseph’s absolute acceptance of God’s message received in a dream. I hope to channel Joseph’s absolute faith in the guidance he was given to be a supporting character in the greatest story ever told. Most importantly, like Joseph did, I hope to evolve with absolute trust that God knows what is best for me and all those around me.


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