Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 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.
I always find the story of Joseph pretty amazing. This guy, so it says, is “faithful to the law” – that means he didn’t want to break any of the biblical laws which would have got him in trouble with those who led his synagogue. I think we can safely say that he’s the sort of person who would make sure that everything he did was correct and proper, because he believed that was what he should do.
Then his fiancée announces she’s pregnant . . . he hasn’t slept with her, so clearly the baby isn’t his. Shock, horror – what are those synagogue leaders going to say about this? . . . Well, we are about to get our first clue about Joseph’s character.
Joseph is a good man, and he doesn’t want Mary to be faced with public disgrace, which is what will happen when people find out she’s pregnant before getting married. He is going to break the engagement quietly and not make a fuss – quite revolutionary! In today’s culture we might have expected him to sell his story to Hello Magazine or News of the World: “my fiancée says God’s the father of her baby” or some other such headline!
And it’s as he’s thinking about what he should do that an angel comes to him to explain that Mary’s baby hasn’t come about in the way Joseph is imagining it has, because God has brought this baby into life within her, through the power of His Holy Spirit. It’s a mind-blowing statement, and pretty hard to swallow really. But Joseph accepts the angel’s story, as we will read in the coming days.
He had hoped for a future with a wife, and a family of his own one day. His initial dream had been shattered, but he’s a good man. He is given a new hope for the future – being the earthly father of the most important baby ever to have been born throughout history!
So what does this say to me? For many years I felt God was calling me to become a Vicar, but for various reasons I kept putting God’s call to one side. When it was suggested to me, that I had “chickened out of God’s call” I felt completely ashamed, hope-less even. But, God had plans and wouldn’t let go of me, and he really opened up the door for me to pursue this call when we moved to Henfield a few years ago. I had trusted in the plans of men, and not listened to God, but God is so amazing that even when I’d turned my back on him – like Joseph had planned to do by divorcing Mary – his grace turned my life around, and now a few years later, I am being blessed in training for Ordained Ministry.
God can speak to us in many ways, like Joseph in his dream, and it’s hard learning to be obedient when the world can tell you otherwise. But, keep going, remember Joseph. He didn’t know what lay ahead of him when he heard that angel, but he knew God had an important call on his life. Jesus grew up in a loving, human family because Joseph had listened to God. Have hope that when God calls you things may not be easy, but you will receive His blessing.
Kate and her husband John have 4 grown up children and 3 grandchildren and they live in Henfield. Some of the family are further away – one son in Cayman Islands and one daughter in London. She is training for ordination, and may be the oldest ordinand in the country with a student card!
Kate shares with us that there was something important in her life that she felt called to but didn’t act on straight away. Is there something in your life like this? Something that you know is important, perhaps you’ve been shying away from, but you know that you need to do? Think about that today, can you even do it today, or just start the ball rolling? Have courage and hope, God will be with you.