Joseph handled the bad news as well as could be expected. He had been betrayed by his betrothed. No one would expect him to go ahead with the marriage now that Mary was pregnant. It had been generations since anyone had followed the letter of the Law, which was good for Joseph. His heart was broken but he had no desire to break Mary’s bones. Instead, his plan was to break off the relationship. He was planning to send Mary away quietly, perhaps to her relative Elizabeth. There she could have the baby that was hers, not theirs. She could start whatever new life she could manage.
Joseph was law-abiding, but he looked, apparently, for the most compassionate answer. His plan for the year had been disrupted, but Joseph arrived at a new plan. That’s the kind of guy he was.
Until the angel appeared in his dream. I’m guessing that angels were unusual for Joseph. Perhaps dreams were, too.
The angel gave clear directions, the kind that we often wish we would get from God. Actually, we’d like the clarity he got, without the specific directions he got. The angel told Joseph that Mary really was pregnant. And it was in a way that no one would ever completely understand. The words were simple: for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. The meaning, however, wasn’t simple at all.
And Joseph simply did what the angel said. He brought Mary home. It was an act of obedience that changed everything, not just for the next year, but for the rest of his life. He would move to a new town, become a political refugee, return to Nazareth with a changed reputation, and disappear.
But Joseph was a righteous man. God had, somehow, spoken.
First published in 2013.