(Warning: In this little series of ‘meditations’ there are simply wonderings about what actually some of the people in the Christmas story felt. They are obviously based on Scripture but they are only wonderings, for we do not know. Yet, if they help us really think into the wonder of what happened two thousand years ago at the time we call Christmas, that will be good.)
The young man awoke with a start. He lay there thinking for a few moments. “It’s happened again!”
He reflected back to that first dream. He remembered it so well even though it had been a year ago.
He had been grieving over Mary. She had let him down; she had let the family down. And then the dream came. It was one of those dreams that stay with you when you woke. In fact it wouldn’t go away. At the time he had thought, “Am I dreaming? Of course I am; it’s a dream! No, have I made it up?”
But it wouldn’t go away and he found the message of the angel in the dream reassuring. But was it real? Was it God speaking to him: “It’s all right; I gave Mary her child; marry her.” Throughout the day, wherever he went, the dream stayed with him. It didn’t fade away like dreams tend to do. By the end of the second day, he dared utter a prayer: “Lord, I believe you. I will marry her.”
But that had been a year ago.
Since then they had had to travel to Bethlehem to be counted in the census and there Mary had had their child. ‘Their’ child! He didn’t understand it but her story matched his dream and he had come to the place of seeing himself as the guardian of the baby she was carrying.
Then that same night had come the shepherds with their tale of angels. Perhaps I am right after all.
They had found a distant family member who let them have a room in their house and they stayed in Bethlehem until they had been able to go up to Jerusalem to offer the sacrifice. It had been there that the old man and woman and heralded them and prophesied over the child. Again reassurance!
They had intended to return to Nazareth but the family had encouraged them to stay and Joseph had been given some work and so before they knew it several months had passed.
And then, just yesterday this caravan of strange travellers had arrived looking for them. He didn’t know how but as soon as the men saw them and their baby, they knew them and, to Joseph’s embarrassment, had bowed down before the baby. Then they presented them with gifts. What gifts! If they sold off these things they would be provided for, for years! When they had left it seemed like life was rather empty. But these men had spoken of their son in glowing terms. Angels, shepherds, people in the temple, and now men from the East; it all pointed the same way. This son of theirs was someone great. But what did that mean? Joseph wasn’t from a great family – well yes he could trace it right back to the great King David, but that meant nothing today, surely. They were an oppressed people under the boot of the mighty Roman army. Nothing was going to change that!
And then came another dream, another angel with a message. It was as vivid as the first one. “Go to Egypt, Herod will try to kill the child!” There was no doubt about it; he was quite clear.
Where would they end up? Mary roused from sleep and smiled at him. I’m going to have to tell her. Here we go again! Where’s it all going to lead?
Reading for today’s story: Matt 2:13,14