We're still in Bethlehem -- Mary and I and little Jesus.
There were lots of things I couldn't tell you about last summer.
You wouldn't have believed me then, but maybe I can tell you
now. I hope you can understand.
You know, Mom, I've always loved Mary. You and dad used
to tease me about her when she was still a girl. She and her
brothers used to play on our street. Our families got together
for supper. But the hardest day of my life came scarcely a
year ago when I was twenty and she only fifteen. You
remember that day, don't you?
The trouble started after we were betrothed and signed the
marriage agreement at our engagement. That same spring
Mary had left abruptly to visit her old cousin Elizabeth in
Judea. She was gone three whole months. After she got
back, people started wondering out loud if she were pregnant.
It was cloudy the day when I finally confronted her with the
"Mary," I asked at last, "are you going to have a baby?"
Her clear brown eyes met mine. She nodded.
I didn't know what to say. "Who?" I finally stammered.
Mom, Mary and I had never acted improperly -- even after
we were betrothed.
Mary looked down. "Joseph," she said. "There's no way I
can explain. you couldn't understand. But I want you to know
I've never cared for anyone but you." She got up, gently took
my hands in hers, kissed each of them as if it were the last
time she would ever do that again, and then turned towards
home. She must have been dying inside. I know I was.
The rest of the day I stumbled through my chores. It's a
wonder I didn't hurt myself in the wood shop. At first I was
angry and pounded my frustrations out on the door frame I
was making. My thoughts whirled so fast I could hardly
keep my mind on my work. At last I decided to end
the marriage contract with a quiet divorce. I loved her too
much to make a public scene.
I couldn't talk to you. Or anyone, for that matter. I went to
bed early and tried to sleep. Her words came to me over
and over. "I've never cared for anyone but you.... I've never
cared for anyone but you...."
How I wished I could believe her!
I don't know when I finally fell asleep. Mom, I had a dream
from God. An angel of the Lord came to me. His words
pulsated through my mind so intensely I can remember
them as if it were yesterday.
"Joseph, Son of David," he thundered, "do not fear to take
Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in
her is from the Holy Spirit."
I couldn't believe my ears, Mom. This was the answer! The
angel continued, "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."
The angel gripped my shoulders with his huge hands. For
a long moment his gaze pierced deep within me. Just as
he turned to go, I think I saw a smile on his shining face.
I sat bolt upright in bed. No sleep after that! I tossed about
for a while, going over the words in my mind. Then I got up
and dressed quietly so I wouldn't wake you.
I must have walked for miles beneath the moon less sky.
Stars pricked the blackness like a thousand tiny pinpoints.
A warm breeze blew on my face.
I sang to the Lord, Mom.
Yes, me, singing, if you can imagine that. I couldn't contain
my joy. I told Him that I would take Mary and care for her. I
told Him I would watch over her and the child--no matter what
I got back just as the sun kissed the hilltops. I don't know
if you still recall that morning, Mom. I can see it in my mind's
eye as if it were yesterday. You were feeding the chickens,
surprised to see me out. Remember?
"Sit down," I said to you. "I've got to tell you something." I
took your arm and helped you find a seat on the big rock out
back. "Mom," I said, "I'm going to bring Mary home as my
wife. Can you help me make a place for her things?"
You were silent a long time. "You do know what they're saying,
don't you, my son?" you said at last, your eyes glistening.
"Yes, Mom, I know."
Your voice started to rise. "If your father were still alive, he'd
have some words, I'll tell you. Going about like that before
you are married. Disgracing the family and all. You.... you
and Mary ought to be ashamed of yourselves."
You'd never have believed me if I'd tried to explain, so I didn't.
Unless the angel had spoken to you, you'd have laughed me
to scorn. "Mom, this is the right thing to do," I said.
And then I started talking to you as if I were the head of the
house. "When she comes I don't want one word to her about
it," I sputtered. "She's your daughter-in-law, you'll respect her.
She'll need your help if she's to bear the neighbors' wagging
I'm sorry, Mom. You didn't deserve that. You started to get
up in a huff.
"Mom," I murmured, "I need you." You took my hand and
got to your feet, but the fire was gone from your eyes.
"You can count on me, Joseph," you told me with a long
hug. And you meant it. I never heard another word. No bride
could hope for a better mother-in-law than you those next
Mom, after I left you I went up the road to Mary's house and
knocked. Her mother glared at me as she opened the door.
Loudly, harshly she called into the house, "It's Joseph!" almost
spitting out my name as she said it.
My little Mary came out cringing, as if she expected me to
give her the back of my hand, I suppose. Her eyes were red
and puffy. I can just imagine what her parents had said.
We walked a few steps from the house. She looked so young
and afraid. "Pack your things, Mary," I told her gently. "I'm
taking you home to be my wife."
"Joseph!" She hugged me as tight as she could. Mom, I didn't
realize she was so strong.
I told her what I'd been planning. "We'll go to Rabbi Ben-Ezer's
house this week and have him perform the ceremony."
I know it was awful sudden, Mom, but I figured the sooner we
got married the better it would be for her, and me, and the baby.
"Mary, even if our friends don't come, at least you and I can
pledge our love before God." I paused. "I think my Mom will
be there. And maybe your friend Rebecca would come if her
dad will let her. How about your parents?"
I could feel Mary's tiny frame shuddering as she sobbed quietly.
"Mary," I said. I could feel myself speaking more boldly. "No
matter what anyone says about you, I'm proud you're going to
be my wife. I'm going to take good care of you. I've promised
She looked up.
I lowered my voice. "I had a dream last night, Mary. I saw an
angel. I know."
The anguish which had gripped her face vanished. She was
radiant as we turned away from the house and began to walk
up the hill together.
Just then her mother ran out into the yard. "Wait," she called.
She must have been listening from behind the door. Tears were
streaming down her cheeks.
"I'll get your father," she called, almost giddy with emotion.
"We," she cried as she gathered up her skirts. "We," she
shouted as she began to run to find her husband. "We ... are
going to have a wedding!"
That's how it was, Mom. Thanks for being there for us. I'll write
[ Author Unknown -- from email@example.com (Robbie), via Bill Champion ]
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