Summary: This sermon tells the Christmas story from Joseph's point of view. He has a vision of Jesus in heaven.
Joseph was a well respected man in Nazareth. He was a very good carpenter and known for his integrity and hard work. He was very generous with the poor and with widows. When he became engaged to a young maiden named Mary, he anticipated a simple life of work, prayer and love for his wife. Mary had suddenly left to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Joseph did not think much of it, but she stayed away for a long time. When she returned three months later, she was pregnant! Joseph was shocked and angry and went to speak with Mary.
“Woman, what have you done? You have broken our covenant. You have been with another man!”
“Joseph, I have been faithful to you. An angel came to me and said I would be the mother of the messiah. I asked him how this could be and he said the Holy Spirit would come over me and conceive the child within me, that the child would be called mighty and be called the Son of God. Then the angel told me that Elizabeth in her old age was six months pregnant because nothing was impossible for God. I went to visit Elizabeth and found her just as the angel had said. Elizabeth proclaimed to me “Blessed are you among women and who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, my baby leaped in my womb. Blessed are you who believed God’s word spoken to you.” (Lk 1.26-45) Joseph, those were Elizabeth’s words, not mine. How could she know? I told her nothing before that.?”
“So, you are telling me that you are still a virgin, yet you carry a child of God?”
“Yes, Joseph, that is the truth.”
“Then go to your home. I must pray. This is hard to accept, Mary, hard to accept.”
After Mary left, Joseph was still angry. How can a virgin be pregnant? Did someone trick her, seduce her and tell her lies? Was Mary insane and not in touch with reality? How could he believe her? It was an impossible situation. According to mosaic law, Mary could be stoned for committing adultery. Joseph didn’t want to hurt Mary, so he was thinking he could divorce her quietly. She would have to leave Nazareth before others found out what happened. He went to bed that night troubled in spirit.
During the night, Joseph had a dream that the town found out about Mary. She was trapped in a narrow alley and men picked up stones to stone her. Suddenly a brilliant light appeared and an angel proclaimed “Would you stone the mother of the messiah? Would you stone the mother of God? This shall not be!” The men dropped their stones and ran away. Then the angel quietly spoke to Joseph. “Do not be afraid. I am the angel that spoke to Mary. She has conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you shall name him Jesus. For “God saves” his people from their sin. Take her as your wife and raise Jesus as your own son.”
When Joseph awoke, he immediately went to Mary’s house and accepted her as his wife. Mary looked relieved when Joseph told her about his dream. Joseph trusted God’s message to him and grew to love Mary even more as each day passed. A census was proclaimed by the Roman Empire, this meant that Joseph had to go to Bethlehem and report that he was a descendant of David. It was a journey of several days. Joseph walked and Mary rode a donkey. It was a difficult journey through the hillsides and rugged terrain, but Mary did not complain. Joseph noticed that Mary seemed to glow and had a very sweet smile on her face. Mary always seemed full of peace and quiet joy, She seemed always to be contemplating her child or praying to God quietly within herself. Joseph felt he was a very blessed man to have such a woman as his wife. He wondered, what type of child she was carrying. What did the future hold in store for him and his little family?
When they arrived at Bethlehem, Joseph immediately reported to the census taker. It was late afternoon and he had no living arrangements, no place to stay. He went from door to door, asking cousins, uncles, friends and strangers if they could take Mary in, because she was due anytime now. Joseph grew more and more frustrated as one person after another told him they had no room for them. Joseph returned to Mary very upset and almost in tears. “There is no room for us here. There is only a cave down that path, where they keep farm animals.” “That will be fine, Joseph, let us rejoice in any path God gives us to walk.”