Advent In-Sight: Joseph’s Window

Imagine your fiance comes to tell you she is pregnant, and the baby is not yours.  But before you stop reeling from that news, she tells you that her impregnation is by the Holy Spirit!  Sit with this until you pass out from shock and disbelief, and you will be ready to view Advent from Joseph’s window.

There are only three words in Joseph’s story that keep things from falling completely apart.  Joseph was ” a righteous man” (Matt 3:19, CEB).  His righteousness was the single, slender thread that prevented chaos, but it was a steel thread, and it set in motion powerful responses in Joseph.

First, he was considerateEven though he would eventually be the butt of jokes and the object of glances, he refused to respond to Mary’s news in any way that would humiliate her (v 19).  He aimed to bring the relationship to an end quietly.  I think this is a clear sign of his deep love for Mary, but even that would have radically changed the Story.  Ah, but there is more.

Second, Joseph was contemplative.  He put things in a larger perspective than himself.  He paid attention to a dream–which he could so easily have dismissed as wishful thinking.  No, he understood that more was going on than his emotions could grasp.  I think that deep down, he trusted Mary to tell him the truth, even if it was a truth he could only ultimately accept from an angel.

And third, he was committed.  That may be obvious from the previous two points, but it is confirmed through three additional points:  he obeyed the angel, he married Mary, and he refrained from sexual intercourse with her until Jesus was born.

Nothing short of amazing–Joseph’s window.  But if we are willing to look through it, we may find that Advent can convey amazing things to us too.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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