If Herod had a mortal antithesis, it was the quiet unassuming Joseph. So much of the incarnation centers around Mary and the baby, yet Joseph was very much front and center. After Mary’s first encounter with the angel, it seems to be Joseph whom God leads through dreams.
He must have been a godly man, one who was more concerned with his relationship with God than what other godly men considered to be godly or religious. Seriously, how does one explain to his family and friends that he is going to marry his betrothed after she returns pregnant from an extended stay with her cousin? He doesn’t; he simply marries her. And when the baby is to be born— obviously too early—well now, people haven’t changed. What do we think?
Joseph was a risk taker, not the careless, flamboyant type, just the careful, contemplative type. So it’s Joseph who guides Mary first to Bethlehem and then to Egypt and back again to Nazareth. Sometimes in life we end up back where we began. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, that’s just the way it is. Did he recall all the prophecies that he was helping to fulfill? I doubt he had time to think about it.
But, today is a good day to consider the man bearing the responsibility of his young wife, bearing a child he could not understand. For who could grasp Messiah as a baby? —Messiah, who would redeem them (and us) from bondage.
So then as today, Christmas is close at hand:
—Helen waking to the first snow in Heidelberg and exclaiming, “Oh, Brecky, it’s Christmas!”
—Flora grasping her too large cowgirl hat in the children’s Christmas program, singing, “Welcome, welcome…”
—Callie and Ellie, wide-eyed, stashing candy canes from Aunt Lora’s tree and stuffing them in their bags…
The children know it’s Christmas, and they anticipate it with joy. Somehow, in Joseph’s planning and care, I believe he looked on the coming birth of Messiah with joy.