Sunday, 11 December 2016

Joseph's perspective

Mary came to me one day with disastrous news. She was pregnant. Now I know that you young folks don't think so much of something like that anymore, but in my day, sex before or outside of marriage was unthinkable. And a betrothed woman who turned up pregnant before marriage was totally disgraced, especially if her husband to be was not the father. Her life was ruined, and any chance that she might have had for marriage was done for. She would be socially marked, outcast by friends and family, and treated as little better than a common harlot by anyone who knew about it. And thanks to gossip, everyone who was anyone would know.

At first I was furious, my wife to be had been with another man. I was also heartbroken, both because I felt betrayed, and because I knew what would happen to her because of it. I would be expected to break off the betrothal and put her away from me in a formal divorcement. I stood there speechless, looking at her, wanting somehow to change the world so that we could still be together.

While I stood there speechless, she begged me to permit her to explain. I was shocked. How could anyone 'explain' this I wondered. Any other woman in a situation like this would be begging forgiveness. But not her, she seemed certain that if I heard what she had to say, that I would understand. Unable to say anything, I simply sat down and looked at her attentively. Mary told her story. Quickly at first, almost in a panic, trying to get it all said as fast as she could. She told me of meeting an angel, who told her that she was to bear a son, and that this child would be the son of the most high.

To say that I couldn't believe her would be an understatement. I could only believe that she had lost her mind. We were both quiet for a long time. The only thing I could think of was that I would have to put her away, but because I still loved her, I decided that it would be done as quietly as possible. There was no way that we could be married now, but I couldn't bear the thought of destroying her as this so easily could. My decision made, I went home. Sleep came slowly that night as I turned this over in my head again and again. I didn't want to do what I knew society would expect. I wanted to scream at the world, "I don't care what you think! I love her and I'm going to marry her!" But I knew that if I married her anyway and this came out that I would be every bit the pariah as her. My career would be over. No one would do business with me, my family would abandon me like I had social leprosy. Life would quickly become very difficult. Finally out of sheer emotional exhaustion I slept.

I had one of those really vivid dreams, the kind where you know you're asleep and dreaming, but cannot do anything to change it. I was working in my father's old workshop. The smell of fresh-cut wood filled the air. Suddenly all sounds of the workshop faded as the air was filled with music like I had never heard before. The beautiful music faded into a quiet background as I saw him. He was tall, with a large powerful build. Dressed all in white with a large sword sheathed at his waist and wings visible over his broad shoulders. "Joseph, descendant of the house and line of David," he said. "Do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife because the child is conceived in her by the power of the Holy Ghost. She will give birth to a son, and you will call his name Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins."

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