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Monday, December 20, 2010

Joseph: How Much Did He Know?

For (hopefully) most of us, Christmas is all about Baby Jesus in the manger. For others, Christmas is simply a time of parties, the madness of retail frenzy, and maybe a warm feeling in the heart.  Not so much about Jesus, yet a happy time of peace and goodwill to men.  For some, Christmas is just a sad time of year to be endured.

Since becoming a mother myself, each year when Christmas rolls around and we focus on the manger, the angels, shepherds and wise men, I have had a much different attitude toward the parents.  Mary and Joseph.  They have become more real to me than before the birth of my own child.  

I've been tossing this particular post around in my head for several weeks.  Time restraints have kept me from completing the task.  As well as not wishing to start any "religious" debates.  I know there are those who read my blog who are polar opposites of me regarding matters of faith.  I don't consider myself a "religious" person.  I'm just a girl who chooses to believe that God matters, and that Jesus is The Way.  Pretty basic.  I detest all the legalism of organized religion and denominations that take our eyes off of what really matters.  It's a huge turnoff to me, and I'm quite sure it is a turnoff to nonbelievers... perhaps one of the reasons for their non-belief.  Whether or not you fall into the category of (my definition of ) Believer, just ride along with me and take what you need/want from the post, and simply leave the rest. These are my thoughts. You probably have your own.

My pastor spoke on a similar subject yesterday, with the focus on Mary.  I'm resting in bed this morning fighting some germs, so I decided to share what I've been pondering. 

The personalization of Mary and Joseph seems to become stronger for me with every passing year.  There's a song called Mary Did You Know that has become popular over the past several years.  Another favorite song about Mary is Amy Grant's version of Breath Of Heaven.  Last night on Facebook someone posted a little video depicting the Social Networking version of the birth.  I thought it was fabulous! Check it out here.  

Mary and Joseph were real people.  Young people. And they were real parents. Do you remember how you felt when you first held your own child?  There is no greater joy in the world. Chances are, though, that your red-faced, squirming, screaming little bundle of joy was wrapped in a clean blanket, after a sterile birth in a warm bed with a host of medically-trained personnel orchestrating the event.  Dad may or may not have been present in the room at the time of the birth, but if he was, his only hands-on involvement might have been cutting the umbilical cord.  The responsibility of the birthing process didn't rest on his shoulders, because the nurses and doctors were there to facilitate a safe birth. Whitney's dad wasn't in the OR when she was delivered by C-section, but I have the most precious picture of him taken immediately after he saw her in the nursery for the first time.  He is hugging his mom, and crying like a baby himself.  I always loved that picture, and it brings me to tears myself whenever I see it.  No doubt about it.  The birth of a child rocks our world, and we discover within us a love that we never imagined existed. 

Mary and Joseph were real people.  I can't imagine how frightened they were.  We women complain about the discomforts of pregnancy.  Can we imagine traveling for miles and miles on the back of a donkey with a baby lying low in the womb?  We have our birth plans all mapped out, and we pre-register at the hospital a month or so in advance.  All we have to do is walk in the door, and our labor and delivery is managed by those trained to assist us.  There was no warm hospital bed for Mary.  I can imagine a frantic Joseph desperately searching for a place to stay as Mary leaned against the smelly donkey, holding her stomach as the pains of birth were upon her.  There were no brightly-lit rooms or warm blankets. There was a dusty barn, likely filled with the smell of animal poop rather than antiseptic soap.  There were no beeps of medical contraptions to surround her, rather the soft breathing of the animals, perhaps the lowing of cattle in the distance, the whinny of horses or bleating of sheep as the background music for the birth of her child.  Young Joseph wearing his dirty travel clothes was her attendant, not a host of nurses clad in clean scrubs.  Joseph, who had no Prepared Childbirth classes, attended Mary as she labored, and at the final moment, received into his hands the Glory of God, as Jesus entered into the world in the form of a flesh-and-blood human.  

I wonder what Mary and Joseph were thinking as they cleaned Him up, and wrapped him in tattered blankets?  Because of the visits from the angels, the immaculate conception, they knew that something Pretty Big was going down.  But.  Did they know?  Did they know What, and Who they were holding? I like to think that God bathed them with grace to protect them from what was coming down the road.  I can't imagine what it would have been like for them to know from the get-go the path that He would take, and what He would ultimately submit himself to.  

There are few things sweeter to me than pictures of a dad holding his baby.  I love a daddy who loves his children, and isn't afraid to show it.  Do we think that Joseph is any different from other dads? Somehow it seems like we just don't think much about Joseph at all.  He was an exceptional young man, called upon by God to do a crazy thing:  Marry his pregnant girlfriend, with whom he knew HE had never been intimate.  Obedient to the voice of God, he was a faithful servant, and did as he was told.  There were no lights or cameras in the stable, but I imagine that Joseph was as overcome with emotion as any other dad upon witnessing the birth of his child, or upon seeing the baby for the first time behind the glass walls of a nursery.  

As Mary slept afterward, can't you just see Joseph gazing into the face of his child, the way all new parents do, wondering at the miracle of birth.  ESPECIALLY THIS BIRTH!!

Last Christmas season, as I was driving down the road, I caught the tail-end of a song on 104.7 The Fish.  I didn't quite catch it all, but it was a song about Joseph wanting the Baby Jesus, just for one night to "just be my child".  As soon as I was able, I Googled and found the song.  It is called Joseph's Lullaby (listen to it here).  Oh my.  This is one of the most moving songs I have heard to date, and it further makes Joseph a real person to me.  

The Words

Go to sleep my son, this manger for your bed.
You have a long road before you, rest your little head.
Can you feel the weight of your glory? 
Do you understand the price?
Does the Father guard your heart for now,
So you can sleep tonight.
Go to sleep my son.  Go and chase your dreams.
This world can wait for one more moment 
Go and seep in peace.
I believe the Glory of Heaven is lying in my arms tonight.
Lord I ask that he, for just this moment, simply be my child.
Go to sleep my son.  Baby close your eyes.
Soon enough you'll save the day.
But for now, dear child of mine.
Oh, my Jesus, sleep tight.  
Wow.  If that doesn't give you a new view of Joseph, I'm not sure anything can. Jesus was IS real.  Mary was real.  And Joseph was real.  

I hope this year it all feels very real for you.

Merry Christmas!!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful Cathy! I love this. Love thinking of Joseph as an overwhelmed new father, worrying,trying to care for and protect his little family. what devotion,obedience,and love! Have a wonderful Christmas! (How can you NOT? with those 2 precious children in the house!
    Merry Christmas! Valerie