18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.
Matthew 1:18-25 (King James Version)
Risk at Advent? What can make such a holy time risky? Let’s examine this part of the Advent story cited above without all the Christmas goo.
This was a risky time for both Mary and Joseph. If we look at verses 18 and 19, I can bet you a 2017 Tesla 90D that all wasn’t well in Judea. First, Mary took a big risk in telling Joseph. You see, Joseph was a just man (or “faithful to the law” in the New International Version), which meant Joseph was a faithful follower of the law of Moses, which he had on his side. Joseph could have brought Mary before the priests and accused her of cheating. This would have called for Mary’s dad to repay Joseph the bride price he paid for her. Then Joseph-and probably Mary’s embarrassed dad-could have had Mary executed despite her pregnancy. At best, even if Joseph did put Mary away privately-as if not to make her a public spectacle-Mary would still risked embarrassment, shame, shunned by most decent men, and a life of hardship.
Joseph also took a risk as well in taking Mary as his wife-and Jesus as his (adopted) son. As I posted last Advent, Joseph risked ridicule from other guys who looked upon him as some cuckolded sap. Joseph also risked shame himself as he would have been criticized for taking “spoiled goods” into his home. He also risked taking the future Jesus under his wing since he wasn’t biologically Joseph’s son. This is why I believe the angel of the Lord had to catch Joseph while he was in dream-state to have him take Mary; to encourage him to take the risk.
Plus, Joseph risked investing in a future he might not see. He was buying in to God’s plan for human redemption through Mary’s unborn child. Joseph took a risk based on a vision of an angel quoting an Old Testament prophet.
Advent reminds us that we take risks in following God; and sometimes they can be big ones. Mary and Joseph risked life, convention, social acceptance, and other things dear to them staying together and seeing Mary’s pregnancy to the end. How many of us are risking status, relationships, career to listen to God. However, we must also remember that taking such risks do have ultimate rewards in the Kingdom of God; and these rewards outweigh the risks.
(Image: Warehouse Door. Newark, NJ 2015. By Me)