Joseph was a good man and he did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to quietly call off the wedding. While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. – Matthew 1:19-20 (Contemporary English Version)
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If Mary is quite young, as I sense, Joseph appears as significantly older – allowing us to consider all the implications and possibilities.
If Mary’s a firebrand, Joseph arises as deliberate and cautious. He does not fly off the handle at the news of her pregnancy, as a young man would likely do, but instead decides to act as rationally and honorably as the situation allows.
If God speaks to Mary by means of an angel, for this Joseph (like his namesake, Jacob and Rachel’s son), it’s by a dream – a step further removed from the Holy One in action.
Of course, as someone who took up parenting – as a stepfather – in my fifties, I want to cry out to him, What are you thinking! As if any of us really knows what’s about to happen.
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God, who is rich in Mercy, for his great Love wherewith he loved us, when we were dead in Sin, hath quickned us together with Christ. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the Image of his Son, that he might be the First-born among many Brethren. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)