Remembering the contribution of Joseph

Published 12:26 pm Tuesday, December 24, 2013

By the Rev. Michael D. Halley

Special to the News-Herald

Every year I learn something new about Christmas. I think that is what is so special about this time of the year … that even though we are re-telling an old, old story, there is always something new and refreshing to learn and experience about Christmas.

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This year, it is about Joseph — Joseph the carpenter, Joseph the husband of Mary, Joseph the legal/foster father of Jesus.

I realized for the first time this year that Joseph never speaks in the pages of the New Testament. He is there, of course, a major player in the birth of Jesus, but there is no record of what he might have actually said. In this case, what Joseph did was much more eloquent than what he said.

Joseph was an honorable man. Faced with the news that his betrothed was pregnant, he wanted to do the right things, actions that would not bring further shame upon Mary or her family. When visited by the angel Gabriel, who explained what had happened, Joseph had the wisdom to listen and to believe in God and to go forward with his plans to marry Mary.

It was Joseph who first learned of the imminent danger to the young boy Jesus. The angel once again appeared to Joseph and warned them to flee Bethlehem and the wrath of Herod. By now Joseph must have been very much attuned to the voice of God in his life. And so, this caring husband and father took his family to the strange land of Egypt, where they stayed until the danger had passed.

We don’t hear much from Joseph from that point on. He does appear when Jesus was 12 years old and stayed behind, discussing theology with the priests in the Temple. Beyond that, Joseph is silent. He probably died before Jesus began his public ministry.

Christmas to me is made special by the people who participated in that spectacular event. People like Joseph, who quietly went about his life, doing the right things, and having the courage to act when it was necessary to protect his family.

When the Christmas trees are put away and the decorations of the season once again assigned to the attic, there remain the people who were there during the miraculous events of the birth of Jesus. Life went on for them as it does for us. And traits of character, as exemplified by Joseph, are what really matter as we live our lives.

Thank God for Joseph, a man who saw his duty and did it with integrity and lots of love for his family.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.


The Rev. Michael D. Halley is pastor of Suffolk Christian Church.