It’s the story of a man, who comes from the finest lineage in the land.  He is engaged to a beautiful young girl when …bum, bum bum …. he learns that the girl is pregnant.  What will he do?  Will he dismiss her quietly?   Read for yourself.   The Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew:

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.”  When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,  but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

And that’s all folks…No manger, no shepherds, no Angel coming to Mary, no Mary visit to Elizabeth in fact no real Mary story at all.  Matthew is Joseph’s story which to be honest, I find very strange.  Even the birth of Jesus, yes child birth, the birth of the son of God is relegated to a line about Joseph’s abstinence.  “he took her as his wife but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son, and he named him Jesus…”

It’s good I suppose to see all of this from Joseph’s perspective, but can you imagine our Christmas celebration without the Gospel of Luke.   Do you remember those first verses in Luke where he says,  lots of people have told this story, but that he has investigated it and feels that it is important to tell his version.  Amen to that.   If I am ever critical of the Luke version of the Christmas story, I just read Matthew. After all these years and reading it hundreds of times,  I am still a little blown away by the …Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary (yeah Joseph)….until she had a baby who Joseph named Jesus.    

I know, I know.  It was a man’s world and Matthew is writing to the Jews of the day.  Still, I find comfort in the fact that the baby Joseph named Jesus, will turn all of those cultural norms upside down.  Jesus changes everything. 

We will give Matthew credit for the Wise Men… those kingly men from the east who came bearing gifts that are only found in this Gospel.   More on that tomorrow.

Grace and Peace at Advent


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