Scene 1: A fictional encounter: Joseph has just found out that his fiancé Mary was pregnant, and he goes to speak to his friend Eliphaz.
Joseph in an angry and agitated state enters the room and SLAMS the door.
Joseph: You’re not going to believe what has happened!
Eliphaz: I just heard Joseph and I’m so sorry. That Mary is a right …
Joseph (interrupting): Doesn’t Mary know how lucky she was to have me? I offered her a home and financial security! Who is going to take her in now? I can’t believe that this has happened, and I really can’t believe that God has let this happen to me! I’ve been his faithful servant all my life and I can’t even begin to put into words how much I feel let down by him!
Eliphaz: Mary is such a disgrace! A real embarrassment to her family! I mean, what was she thinking! She is going to get a shock when she stops and realizes how God sees her, I hope that he gives her exactly what she deserves for the choices she has made!
Joseph: I can’t believe how stupid I was to believe that she was willing to be mine, my precious. I was so looking forward to life together with Mary, I wonder if …
Eliphaz (interrupting): You’ve got to break up with her Joseph. She is making you look a fool, and you need to make clear to everyone that your engagement has ended.
Joseph: God’s law makes clear that I can’t marry Mary, but it also calls us to be merciful and so I will try to end the engagement in a way that doesn’t involve her being publicly disgraced.
Eliphaz: Good look with that Joseph! Mary already is a disgrace; she’s clearly not fit to be one of God’s chosen people and I think you’ve had a really lucky escape here. I’ll get in touch with Bildad and Zophar and we’ll come around later. We really want to sympathize with and comfort you at this time.
Scene 2: Matthew 1.20-25
But after he had considered this, 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.”
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Joseph’s perspective was changed by the angel of the Lord.
Rather than looking at God through the lens of his life circumstances, Joseph began to see his life through the lens of God.
As Joseph began to see and accept what God was doing, his perspective changed, and he began to make different choices accordingly.
When life feels stressful and we are angry with people, will we pause, listen and try to seek God’s perspective? Will we try to clarify the facts of a situation before we react to it?
The Christmas story is a traumatic one and understanding God’s perspective, meant that Mary and Joseph were able to endure the pain and rejection that they would have faced from their family and community. This would have helped to keep them going on the long road to Bethlehem, in the rejection of there being no room for them in a town where so many of their relatives lived and also in their terror filled escape to Egypt. God’s perspective made it easier for Mary and Joseph to persist in all that they went through.
Are you open to looking at your life through the lens of God?
God, help us to pause and to listen to you.
When we are angry and overwhelmed, we pray that you would give us your peace and remind us that we need space to seek your perspective.
May our lives continually be changed by encounters with you.
Bonus Content: A special prize for anyone who can work out why Joseph’s friends are called Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (Note that due to budgetary restrictions, the special prize is knowing that you worked it out and then, if you are able, you can pat yourself on the back!)