This week, for the fourth week in Advent, we get the Christmas story from Joseph’s perspective. Interestingly, it’s a lot scarier than Mary’s side. There is something about the way Luke tells the Christmas story that seems like everything is under control. There’s the whole moment of Elizabeth greeting Mary and the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaping in recognition of the child in Mary’s. But Joseph seems—almost wandering around in the dark, except for a very brief visitation by an angel in a dream, who tells him, almost as an afterthought: “Don’t worry—the child is there from the Holy Spirit.”
You can just imagine Joseph waking up and thinking, “O.K. I’m really going to do this. I am going to trust my dream.” And then—he suffers the consequences, including fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod.
Joseph’s story is as story of light in darkness. It’s a story of how hope comes when all hope seems lost. It’s about God’s will being done, even though we doubt it and cannot always see it clearly. So, in the end, Joseph’s story is about faithfulness.
Faithfulness does not mean God explaining everything beforehand, but discovering God along the way. It does not always mean clarity of mind, but resolve in purpose. It does not mean assent to God’s requests, but obedience in discipleship. It can be hard and scary and lonely. But it is the way—the way to live with God.
Finally, I’m sorry to say that I’m cancelling the Wednesday evening prayer services for now. We may try again in the new year.