This series is my own preparation for Advent, and it will look at the First Christmas and how various characters encountered the First Christmas. “What was Christmas like for….?” is the question we are asking. We will look at Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, and Simeon/Anna. Each will have five separate posts around this theme: their encounter with the revelation that Christmas was about to occur. These are not sermons, but advent preparation reflections, and I hope to engage any and all who will think along with me around this theme this Advent Season. Again, what was the first Christmas like? (And, of course, what are its implications for today?)
Christmas for Joseph meant that God’s plan encompassed Joseph before he knew it (Matt 1:18)
Protestants have neglected Mary because both the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic have overemphasized her; there are no good reasons to neglect Joseph. We may not know much about him – we really only have Matthew 1:18-25, but we ought to be impressed by this solid, staid, Jewish gentleman who lived by the Torah.
Joseph was by all means an “ordinary saint.” He was in the midst of plans to marry Mary while all around him heaven was swirling and God’s plans to liberate Israel and redeem the world were about to be set into action. Joseph was doing what he was supposed to be doing – waiting and planning and doing what good “ordinary saints” do – follow the Torah.
But totally unknown to Joseph, God was gathering forces for a new kind of birth that would lead many to a new birth. God wanted to work redemption in the world to reconcile humans to God and to others, and to do so God nearly broke the relationship of Joseph and Mary to accomplish reconciliation. To bring about his plan, God chose an ordinary virgin girl, named Mary, and decided to create a miracle in her.
What I am perhaps most impressed with in this short paragraph is that God was working to change Joseph’s life and Joseph was totally unaware both of what God had planned and with whom he was planning to do that great work.
Being in the right place (the place where God is at work) at the right time (when God is working) is what obedience is all about.