What’s more fun than the annual family newsletter, just in time for Christmas? For my December series this year, I bring you the newsletters of four characters from the Christmas story. May they inspire you to write your own!
Dear Family & Friends,
I may have said this other years, but this time it’s really true: this has been the most amazing year of my life! Should you find the personal nature of this year’s letter too much information, I apologize in advance. It is too intriguing not to share. But if you conclude that I have lost all sense, for that I do not apologize. I know what is true.
If you received last year’s update, you know that I became engaged to be married. My fiancée, Mary, is a descendant of King David, like me. She’s a sweet girl and I hope you get to meet her one day. For a few months last summer, however, I felt certain it would all be called off and I would be looking for another bride.
Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and it felt like the longest three months of my life. You can imagine my joy when my future father-in-law arrived at my door early one morning to tell me Mary had returned the night before. But I doubt you can comprehend the devastation I felt when he told me the rest of the news. Mary was pregnant. Furthermore, she was already pregnant before she left Nazareth to visit Elizabeth. He looked sick with shame.
Naturally, he assumed I was the father and urged me to move up the wedding date. But how could I? The child was not mine! He did not believe me, and I am not certain he believes me yet, in spite of both Mary’s and my insistence that I have not touched her. I only know the days that followed were the most difficult of my life. Sleep deprivation and distraction rendered me useless in my carpentry shop, so I went for a long walk while I begged God for direction. Tortured, I waffled between breaking off the engagement (how could I marry a woman who had proven so untrustworthy?) and playing the hero by marrying as quickly as possible and raising Mary’s child as my own, no questions asked.
But who was the real father, and would thoughts of him haunt me all my days? Whose face would I see reflected in my child? Would I be able to love and care for him or her? Would I grow to resent Mary more with every passing year? I was already vexed with her for bringing this upon me. Yet, my wish to protect her from disgrace tormented me. She may never find another husband, given these circumstances. Her child would be despised and rejected. I’ve seen it before.
During this tortuous time, I experienced the most incredible—yet also the most real—encounter of my life. An angel of God came to me in a vision! I know no words with which to accurately describe him, but magnificent comes to mind. I’m a big guy and have faced tough men, but this visit had me feeling as fragile as wood shavings on my shop floor. Until he gently spoke my name and delivered his message.
“Joseph, son of David,” he said. “Don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.”
You might think it would be easy to shrug off such an encounter as a weird dream. A little too much kosher wine the night before, perhaps. But I knew it was so much more. The relief brought by the angel’s words was immediate and complete. I knew what I must do. Mary and I will go ahead with our plans and I will raise this miracle child.
Shortly afterwards, the Romans announced their upcoming census which, for us, will require a trip to Bethlehem. Mary assures me we have plenty of time to make the trip and return home before she delivers. I know many of you face similar trips for the same reason, so I won’t complain. I have not visited Bethlehem since childhood and who knows what we may discover there?
So, rejoice with me, friends. I will soon have a wife and a son! Next year’s letter will no doubt make you roll your eyes with my stories of little Jesus and how clever and handsome he is. Now I know it is my heavenly Father’s face I will see reflected in his.
Until then, God bless you.
Joseph of Nazareth