Advent Thoughts

Friday, December 10
Matthew 1:19

In my translation of this text, only twenty-one words are used to describe the most critical decision of Joseph’s life. Do not move on before re-reading those words several times, and even better, examine the words in several translations or paraphrases.

Write down answers to these questions. How does Matthew describe Joseph’s primary character trait? How did that trait influence Joseph’s action? What was Joseph’s principal concern? What is Joseph’s decision? How did he arrive at that decision?

Because translators use few words to describe the scene, we’re tempted to pass over this momentous situation and move on with the story. But is there something here worth digging into? How can Joseph’s character, decision making, compassion become a mirror for our own lives this Advent? I believe Matthew’s succinct portrayal doesn’t fully describe how long is the scene, nor the possibility of tears, the questions, the silences. Matthew may somewhat rob the scene of emotion but upon careful reflection, we can feel it. Everything he believed about Mary–and perhaps about God?–is now up for question. Who can he trust? What will be the cost no matter his decision? Although we don’t discover it until we overhear the angel, Joseph is also afraid. He certainly didn’t intend to be a stepfather.

The text says he had in mind to divorce her quietly… Joseph comes to a decision. He had in mind means he now chooses, determines, plans, decides, intends to take action that will neither shame nor disgrace Mary.

toRecall a decision you once faced that you knew would drastically change–or decidedly alter–your life. How did you make the decision? Would you change your reasoning now? Where did God “fit” into your decision-making process? How does he fit in your decisions this Advent, particularly as those decisions influence the people near you? Your answers may change your future. And the future of others.

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