When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. (Mt 1:24)
Christmas is the incarnation — God becoming man. It is insanity for the Creator to become the created! And yet the event is surrounded by all of these common moments. Things we easily relate to our own lives. A young couple. Pulses racing as they smile at one another.
But then Mary “was found to be pregnant.” Who found out? I am sure Joseph’s friends ribbed him at first. They assumed Joseph was the father and the young couple was a little too passionate… the look on Joseph’s face silenced the laughter. Now the rumors doubled.
With all the voices, Mary fled to the hill country. She was a young teenager – filled with manic emotions. She could burst into joyful song, but just as quickly break into tears. Especially as the gossip outran her. She knew Joseph would no longer smile at her, his next words would surely be a break up. How could she do this alone?
At this point the story makes sense. Joseph’s jealous anger and his decision to quietly break off the marriage. Mary’s emotional rollercoaster and her choice to hide in the country. But Mary does not stay for the birth of Elizabeth’s baby. She arrives in Elizabeth’s sixth month, then leaves after three months. Why would she head home when Elizabeth is ready to burst?
No one I know would leave at that moment. Surely Elizabeth, at her age, would need help… as I stammered for an answer the stories of Matthew and Luke came together.
We find Elizabeth on bed rest, her ankles swollen beyond recognition. Mary is busy finishing chores and preparing the meal. Zechariah is silent, a blessing as Mary learns to cook! Then a stranger arrives in the small town looking for Mary. Joseph has come. When they meet, Joseph can’t help but look at the baby bump. Mary eyes begin to well, the rumors are true, he will break off the marriage…
“I have come to take you home as my wife.”
You will not be alone Mary. In this, Joseph acts like God. Our Lord will not abandon us. Jesus came down, not to destroy, but to dwell. To walk with us. We are even called his bride.
This is the meaning of Christmas For God so Loved… You… Jesus came for you.