Once upon a time, I used to write Christmas plays. I write plays for Sports Camp, which is easier by comparison. Demonstrating the big ideas of Sports Camp is simpler than explaining the wonder of Christmas.
Despite that, I am proud of those Christmas plays. One of my favorite vignettes from those plays was the perspective I once wrote for Joseph’s story.
Poor Joseph. In the Christmas narrative, his story is often overlooked. Through the few Bible verses that tell Joseph’s story, I connect to his very human reaction and his faithful response.
Here was a man who had a plan shattered by circumstances he could not explain. His life is interrupted as much as Mary’s, but his reaction to her miraculous pregnancy was so…human.
I imagined Joseph and Mary talking about their future life; marriage, home, children of their own. But when Mary told him of her miraculous pregnancy, all I could hear Joseph say was a mantra I’ve often uttered:
“But we had a plan…”
Matthew 1:19: Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
This was not how husbands are to act. They weren’t married yet, and at the first sign of trouble, he wanted to flee. Quietly.
Perhaps I overlooked Joseph’s story because I don’t want to acknowledge that very-human-part of me which fears the unknown and the unexplainable. Because of those fears, I end up doing very self-destructive and hurtful things. To myself. To others.
All right, Joseph. Now, I understand you.
Matthew 1:20, 24: But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit…When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him…”
He chose faith even if it was beyond explanation. Joseph obeyed God and took Mary away from their town, from the ones they love. I imagine as they traveled, Joseph’s mind turned over with questions like:
Should the Son of God be born in a dirty no-name town, in a no-name inn, to parents with no name to speak of?
Is this what the God Almighty really wanted?
How does one raise the Son of God?
Despite his doubts and because of his obedience, Joseph witnessed God break through heaven to reach his people. He heard the voice of God through his baby’s first cry. He embraced God in his arms. In these moments, I imagine Joseph whispering to himself:
I did not plan for this much grace.
For centuries, he and his people prayed for the Lord to come down and rescue them. Joseph may not have understood why God chose to break his silence with a baby’s cry, but after that night, he knew God is good.
And that God, too, had a plan.
Joseph’s role in God’s great plan? To love his Son.
Maybe that was my problem with Christmas plays. I don’t need to explain wonder. I just need to draw near and see God. I need to ponder the big things God does in the overlooked stories like Joseph’s. I need the stories inside and outside of the Bible that remind me that faith calls me to hope in ways that are beyond the plans I make for myself. I need to remember these stories so that I can know that God is good.
And that God, too, has a plan.
My role? To come and adore the Savior who broke through silence to reach me.
Now that is a story I can tell.