How Christmas began, 4

I OBEYED MY DREAMS (Mt.1: 18-25; 2:13-14).

I am Joseph of Nazareth and a descendant of the House of David. It was not something I could publicize. There were hopes and rumors that another David would come and deliver us from our oppressors. Our invaders forced us into service and molested our women. Our king was not a descendant of Jacob and therefore he feared the prophecy that suggested the rise of another David. For that reason, we lived in obscurity in Nazareth where no prophecy pointed at. I lived quietly, obeyed the traditions of our fathers and made my living as a wood worker. I, too, intended to be married and raise a family. I even became engaged to a very kind and lovely young lady by the name of Mary. I had no idea that a dream would alter my intentions in life. There were many with dreams and vision, but I was not one of them. I relied on facts and facts were difficult to dismiss.

I was being confronted with a very unpleasant task. My Mary was not what I had expected her to be. It became apparent, that she was carrying a child and I knew that it was not mine. I was unable to accept a woman that had a relationship with another man while she was engaged to me. My pride was hurt severely. Yet, I could not drag her before the public and accuse her of infidelity. I was looking for some quiet way to trade her off, perhaps even to the guilty one. My scheming got me nowhere and my pride did not let me ask my bride how she became pregnant. Well, I did not have to resolve my dilemma. My rival did appear to me while I was sleeping. I, who was not paying much attention to dreams, paid full attention to this heavenly messenger and his instructions were very specific. What he was saying coincided with what our prophet Isaiah had predicted. God would use a virgin to bring our Deliverer into our world.

First of all, the messenger eased my mind and lessened my fear by telling me that my rival was the Spirit of God. The messenger assured me that Mary had not been with any man. Now, God was entrusting her and the child to me. I was to name the child and regard it as my own. God made me the child’s father. The messenger instructed me that it was going to be a boy and that I was to name Him “Jesus” for He was the One that would save us from our sins. In Him, God would be with us. It sounded rather simple, but was it? Little did I know what it would take to protect the Son of God from our enemies? Our enemies kept tabs on us and we were ordered by Rome to go to the place of our origin and register for tax purposes. That is why we had to return to Bethlehem. Our return to Bethlehem also agreed with the prophecy that the Savior would be born in the City of David. Mary and I expected it to be an unnoticed event. Our trip and arrived were uneventful and unexpected. The only place we were able to find where we could stay was an animal shelter. This too was an act of kindness of the proprietor.

We barely reached Bethlehem and Mary gave birth to a baby boy,we wrapped Him in some clothes and we laid Him in an animal feeding crib. We were about to enjoy a quiet celebration of our firstborn when a number of shepherds appeared and began telling us that angels had told them that this “Baby Boy” was the Christ Child and that heaven, too, was celebrating the event. We, too, began to hear angelic music and see a starry sky. A kind couple made room for us in their home where Mary and the baby could rest for eight days. We took the baby boy to the temple and had Him circumcised. We offered up a pair of doves and two young pigeons. Then I named Him “Jesus.” Near by stood two people that were anxious to lay their hands on our Son. An old man named Simeon blessed Mary and then he had a message from the Lord. This child would become the rise and fall for many and be the One that many will oppose. He added a sad comment that a sword would pierce Mary’s soul. That prediction, I would never see. An old widow agreed with Simeon and uttered similar blessings and messianic expectations.

We returned to Bethlehem for more rest and to a much bigger surprise. Some wealthy stargazers had come from the East to search for a newly born king of the Jews. They had followed a star and lost it when they reached Jerusalem. They were taken to king Herod, who consulted his religious experts and they informed the king and the stargazers that Bethlehem was the likely place. Herod instructed these men from the East to find the child and report back to him so he too could pay homage to the newly born king. That was how these men found us, they bowed before our Child and gave Him costly gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. They told us that a star had directed them to where we were staying. The next morning, they were gone in a hurry. They left a message that a dream warned them not to return to Jerusalem. That night, I too had my second dream regarding our Son. The messenger from heaven ordered me to take my family and flee to Egypt, for Herod was sending his soldiers to kill all male children under the age of two. We lived in Egypt in different places until Herod died and heard of his atrocity in Bethlehem and Ramah.

Our Lord Yahweh used Egypt to save our fathers from starvation during the time of Joseph and now He had saved our rightful “King” from being killed by a false king. I took my family back to Nazareth and quietly resumed my trade as a carpenter. Mary and I kept the secrets about our encounters with our Son. I was only privileged to watch the boy mature at the age of twelve when He let us know that He knew who His Father was. It was apparent to us that He would surprise many.