-Rev Craig A McDonald-
When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife.
Joseph is a pretty interesting character. I often wonder how he felt about everything that was happening to him and his betrothed. With the limited amount of details that the Christmas narrative has, often the thoughts and feelings of the characters are left out. Joseph is a perfect example of this.
One of my favorite things to do is to imagine how the characters feel in each story and add that to the text. Sometimes I can even imagine the character feeling a number of ways about the story that they are a part of. Feelings have the potential to add so much depth.
As Joseph wakes up from his dream surely he has recognized the power and presence of the Divine (that’s often the hard part!). I wonder if he felt scared. Maybe he felt scared because of the complex nature of their situation. Maybe he felt scared because he had an inkling of an idea of what it might mean for their son to be the Messiah and the conflict that would come from it. It could be that he was scared because he was about to be a dad for the first time! What if Joseph wakes up and he is resentful? Have you ever been resentful of God? It’s not hard to imagine that Jospeh could be resentful, having been thrust into this situation that will be very difficult to explain. He could even be feeling relief. The situation itself is complicated but now there at least has been a dream where God has been revealed as present. It’s not as if God has given them a flow chart for how to handle the situation or for what comes next.
Joseph is not given a lot of time to express his thoughts and feelings but rest assured, there is a lot going on behind the scene. Both he and Mary must be terrified, excited, thrilled, anxious, and amazed. Sometimes in the wonderful and terrifying things that take place in our lives we need to take stock of our own feelings. In the season of Advent we might be feeling pressure to find the perfect gift for a loved one or prepare the perfect prayer or song for the Christmas Eve service. We might feel the anxious weight of an exam or from the preparations for travel. We might feel sorrow as we miss a special person who we once celebrated this season with. It’s important for us to take note of our feelings during this time of year. None of the feelings we have are bad and it’s helpful to take stock of where we are in the moment. Doing this just might give us the opportunity to make space for the feeling of wonderment of this beautiful child, helpless and poor, has been shared with us to change the world.
Most Holy One, be with me during this Advent season, in the joyous and the difficult. May I make space for You and the wonder of this Good News.
Rev. Craig McDonald is an ordained minister with the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church), most recently serving First Christian Church of Rome, GA. Rev. Craig served as a Young Adult Pastor at Arch Street UMC in Philadelphia, PA, as Associate Pastor at Mercy Community Church in Atlanta, and as a Youth Pastor at Sandy Springs Christian Church. He earned his MDiv from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, and earned his Bachelor’s degree from Columbus State University.
Craig loves mountain biking and all things outdoors. He and his wife, Megan, enjoy cooking, traveling, and hiking with their dog Maxwell.