Dear Church family,
We have talked a little bit about Joseph’s role in the Christmas story and he has been on my mind a fair amount lately so here are some further thoughts about the man we often put at the back of the stable. At the end of the e-votional I have included a poem about Joseph by one of my favorite poets Ann Weems from her book of poetry Kneeling in Bethlehem.

As I said above, I have been wondering about Joseph lately. Have you ever wondered about him? Think about it for a minute: Mary’s virgin birth was always going to be embarrassing. But if she had been single or widowed, only she would face the scrutiny. But God sends Jesus to an engaged woman, guaranteeing that someone else would be embarrassed too. Why?

I think it is because Joseph is the one in the story who has a choice. Mary has no choice. By the time she knows about it the pregnancy is a done deal.  But Joseph has a choice. He feels the embarrassment and he has a choice: will he be faithful or will he not? In Joseph we get to see ourselves for we have a choice too. None of us will find ourselves divinely pregnant but all of us will be faced with choices. God will not force us in these choices: we can be faithful or we can not.

Joseph shows us one way to make the right choice. First, prepare to do the hard thing; and second, don’t let yourself be afraid. That is what Joseph did. He made the more difficult decision. He took Mary as his wife, even with all the talk. Even when it went against everything he had been taught. Then he heeded the angel’s words and refused to be afraid.

If this season has gotten you down, if it has been complicated and fraught, please remember that you are in good company. These weeks have been complicated and fraught since their very beginning. Joseph can attest to that! And he can point you toward the way to make a godly choice when life is hard: make the difficult decision and then refuse to be afraid. It’s the Joseph way.

Please pray with me: Dear Lord, we are so grateful that you are “God With Us”. We are grateful that you joined us in life and you know how difficult it can be. And we are grateful that you are greater than anything we face. It is in your name that we pray and on you that we lean. Amen.

Christ’s Peace be with you all,

Getting to the Front of the Stable

Who put Joseph in the back of the stable?
Who dressed him in brown, put a staff in his hand,
and told him to stand in the back of the creche,
background for the magnificent light of the Madonna?

God-chosen, this man Joseph was faithful
in spite of the gossip in Nazareth,
in spite of the danger from Herod.
This man, Joseph, listened to angels
and it was he who named the Child
Is this a man to be stuck for centuries
in the back of the stable?
Actually, Joseph probably stood in the doorway
guardian the mother and child
or greeting shepherds and kings.
When he wasn’t in the doorway,
he was probably urging Mary to get some rest,
gently covering her with his cloak,
assuring her that he would watch the Child.
Actually, he probably picked the Child up in his arms
and walked him in the night,
patting him lovingly
until he closed his eyes.

This Christmas, let us give thanks to God
for this man of incredible faith
into whose care God placed the Christ Child.
As a gesture of gratitude,
let’s put Joseph in the front of the stable
where he can guard and greet
and cast an occasional glance
at this Child
who brought us life.

—Ann Weems