So much casting shame and guilt.
So much accusing of conspiracy and falsehood.
So much indicting for behaviors unbecoming and deeds unwelcome.
So much righteous indignation.
So much misunderstanding.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 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. (Matthew 1: 18-19)
Joseph, the faithful, had every right to cast out his young bride-to-be, who apparently, was not. And yet… he grew curious about how this came to be. He questioned how it may have come about. He deliberated on the action he was about to take. He wondered if there was more to this story than he yet knew. And then,
an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-22)
Who am I falsely accusing?
What conclusion am I jumping to?
Where have I misread, mistrusted, and misunderstood?
How, in my righteousness, which I have called faithfulness
have I hurried to divorce – even quietly –
rather than consideration, consolation, provision?
Where, in my failure to be curious,
have I rushed to the … and now!
rather than abiding in the … and yet?
Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.
We don’t want to hear it! And we certainly don’t want to see pictures of it!
That’s what my friends who are digging out of Blizzard 2016 are telling me. And I don’t blame them. There they are, buried in nearly three feet of snow, and here I am sitting pretty in the Florida sunshine. Keep it to yourself they say, we’ve got a situation.
So… No more photos. No more Facebook posts. I’m censoring my sharing, lest it be seen as teasing or taunting or, at least, insensitive to their hardship – which I don’t know and certainly am not experiencing. Who could blame them for feeling a bit of resentment toward their friend who is living in luxury while they toil and fend for themselves?
Makes me wonder about the Biblical Joseph who, while his brothers are experiencing famine, lives in plenty in the house of his Egyptian master. Of course, the brothers were unaware their little bro had survived their attempted homicide, so they probably didn’t give that a second thought.
Then there was Moses, separated from his people and raised in Pharaoh’s palace. That probably wouldn’t have played well had his fellow Jews – enslaved by their harsh Egyptian task masters – gotten wind of their boy Moses’ eating delicacies and enjoying royal privilege.
And then there was Jesus, come to walk among us and be one of us – to know our hardship and pain intimately, to experience our sorrow and disappointment, and to suffer with us. God knew that His ministry and message would not have rung true in any other way.
“Really, I have been watching from heaven and I have seen what you have been experiencing. True, where I come from there’s no pain and suffering, but I’ve been watching yours and I can relate. I’ve been reading all your Facebook posts and watching all your videos. I feel really bad for you. It’s agonizing watching you do all that shoveling. …”
No, there is just something about being there. Walking among, shoveling alongside, warming hands together while sipping hot chocolate and telling stories of the day.
So, friends at home, it may sound strange, but the land of luxurious sun feels a bit lonely these days. Comfortable, yes, but remote and not quite right, as if I should be doing something more to hold up my end of the bargain. I guess Joseph and Moses had to figure that out.
Jesus just knew. Thank God for that.