Friday, December 24, 2010

An early, but long-waited & eagerly anticipated Christmas present

Well, the point of Advent season is to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus - both celebrating when He was born in the stable, when He came to reside in our hearts, and when He will come again. The theme of advent is patience.

Ah, patience. A hard gift to appreciate. I've spent much of this season wondering if what I hoped & longed for would come to fruition. While I hoped for it, I prepared myself for the fact that it may not come...but, still, I hoped.

Well, on the morning of Thursday, December 23rd, Dan woke me up (by poking me in the face) and requesting that I come downstairs. I was far more interested in remaining in my bed where it was warm. He said, "It's warmer downstairs! Come on! I've got an ornament for Mom & Dad and I want to show you!" Well, I got up and went straight my pajamas, with my bedhead, and glasses.

I had this fleeting thought that maybe Dan was going to propose - but, when you've thought it could possibly happen for awhile, you learn to dismiss those thoughts. :) So, I came downstairs, tyring to focus (I really need new glasses!). He was waiting by the tree and started pointing out some ornaments and explaining their history. As I'm looking at some of the ornaments, I notice one of two penguins wrapped in a red scarf. The scarf had writing on it. The writing said, "Will You Marry Me?" I looked at Dan and said, "Really?" (I wasn't really sure if that ornament was for me...or was somebody else' one of his brothers had proposed that way. I don't know. I just wasn't sure if it was for me. When you've waited 31 years, you want to be sure that it's really for you before you go saying, "Yes! Yes!")

He said, "Yes. Will you?"

I said smiling and laughing, "Yeah! Yes! I'll marry you!"

So, there you have it. I'm engaged.

Also FYI...when you've spent your life being single and you're me (which means it's okay to think about silly things like reception decorations but not actual details like dates), it's a bit daunting to be asked WHEN the wedding will be when you've been engaged for less than a day. :) So, keep your ears open - we'll let you know!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oh, Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25

This is how Jesus Christ was born. Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit (disgrace) her.

While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him 'Jesus' for he will save his people from their sins."

All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel which means: God-with-us.' When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do and he took his wife to his home. So she gave birth to a son and he had not had marital relations with her. Joseph game him the name of Jesus.

I love Joseph. Mary gets so much attention - and rightfully so. Hers was an extraordinary leap of faith to trust that God could cause her to bear His son - to believe that it would happen to her just as the angel said - to believe and submit, even though "the world" would condemn her for being 'just another unwed teenage mother.' (Oh, maybe that was still a scandal, back in the day.)

I love Joseph, though, because he is one of those quiet, faithful leaders. Matthew describes him as upright (or righteous); he was righteous because he wanted to "do right by others and by God" - not because he kept the letter of the law perfectly. (although he may well have) I love that, though betrothed, he is referred as her husband; and she as his wife. I love that he deeply loved & respected Mary, evidenced by his desire to "in no way discredit/disgrace her."

I love that he pondered over this - probably prayerfully. While in prayer, God spoke to him. I love that God had big plans for Joseph in the birth & raising of Jesus. It was Joseph who was charged with naming Jesus. It was Joseph who gave Jesus his heritage as a "son of David," part of tribe of Judah, a root of Jesse's tree.

I love that Joseph did just as he was asked. We never hear a word uttered by Joseph, but we can learn much from his example. He wanted to do right by Mary and by God - without regard for himself. When given a message from God, he believed it and faithfully acted. Oh Joseph, you were the perfect husband for Mary and father for Jesus.

Commentary by Joan Chittister, OSB:

Mary is for us a sign of faith; Joseph, a sign of compassion.
Mary trusts God in every aspect of her life.
Joseph trusts the mercy and plan of God, as well.
Mary turns her life over to the will of God.
Joseph trusts that goodwill underlies human nature.
Her faith and his compassion are measures of our own.