Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to pay attention to the story of your coming, so that we might be able to recognize you in the comings and goings of this day and this season. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25
Journal: What do you think it would have been like to be Joseph? What do you see in him? What do you admire about him? How might God be calling you to do the same?
Reflection: As we enter into the Christmas narrative, we discover an assortment of people, each with their own particular role to play. First, we see Zechariah, the priest and prophet, who is the one on hand when God finally decides to end his 400 years of silence. And there is his wife, Elizabeth, who, in her own pregnancy, offers Mary the space and the time, the conversation and the encouragement and the companionship necessary to thrive and flourish in a difficult and uncertain, yet incredibly exciting, season. Then there is John the Baptist, still in utero, who is so excited to be the one preparing the way for the coming Savior that he leaps in the womb of his mother. And, of course, there is Mary, the one through whom the Christ will come—the theotokos, the God-bearer.
Finally, there is Joseph. Sweet, strong, silent Joseph. The most striking thing about him is that he’s not a major character in the story, yet he is, nonetheless, an important one. If it weren’t for Joseph, who knows what would have happened to Mary. In fact, he could’ve washed his hands of the whole thing early on, but he chose not to. He obviously loved Mary (and God) very deeply, and it showed. Joseph stepped up, when he very easily could’ve opted out. He cared for Mary, he guarded her reputation, he got her to Bethlehem, and he found a place for the Savior to be born. He was there for the delivery, the entry of God into his creation. And, most likely, he was one of the very first to hold the newborn king. Then Joseph did a really amazing thing. After he had done all of the dirty work, he gently faded into the background. In fact, he faded so gracefully that we hardly even noticed he was gone. Joseph ceded center stage to the One the story is really all about. He was heroic in his humility.
I admire Joseph for that. Most of us are unwilling to stay in the background. Most of us are trying so hard to be somebody that we are resistant to the idea of being only a minor character in the story, yet Joseph embraced it. Maybe during this season of Advent, we should do the same. Maybe we should practice giving center stage to those around us. Maybe we should listen more and talk less. Maybe we should look for the dirty work and do it, without any desire to be seen or acknowledged, except by the One who sees all—Jesus. After all, it is his birthday.
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, remind us daily that this season, as well as this life, is about you and not about us. Help us to learn the lessons we can learn from Joseph, and put them into practice. Amen.