We’re mailing our Christmas letter. The 2022 edition contains a family picture from our daughter’s wedding in August, a family highlight. One might even call it good news of great joy.
Ever wondered what Joseph and Mary would have included in their first letter?
Trust this finds all of you well. Sorry if this gets to you late, but this year has been quite eventful. Last year at this time Mary and I were betrothed. Well, we moved up our wedding date and then traveled to Bethlehem for the census. Mary had a baby boy. We were visited by Magi several weeks later, fled Judea after a visit from an angel and are now on the run in Egypt, unsure of our future. Don’t bother trying to reach us. We’re “poor, refugees and homeless,” as the locals call us, but living off the occasional carpentry job I can find. Worst case, we can always use the gifts from the Magi. God provides.
As you can imagine, moving up our wedding date and Mary’s pregnancy was hard to explain to our families. They haven’t exactly believed our stories of seeing and hearing an angel.
Would he have mentioned that he was not the father? That Jesus’ first bed was an animal feed trough and that their first visitors were (ritually unclean) shepherds, who claimed they were told of his birth and the location by an angel? That when they dedicated Jesus in the Temple at six-weeks old, a man they did not know predicted a future that would rip apart Mary’s heart? That he didn’t even bring up Joseph?
Would Joseph have expressed grief over hearing that Herod had ordered the boys, from infants to those just beginning to talk in Bethlehem and the surrounding area, murdered because of this child?
Would he have recalled the family genealogy, mentioning the four women, whose inclusion always led to a lot of conversation: Tamar, the father of her twin sons being her father-in-law, which made her own sons half-brothers to her previous two husbands? Rahab, whose occupation before coming to faith in Israel’s God Yahweh included selling herself by the hour to make a living? Ruth, from Moab, whose people good Israelites were forbidden to marry? Bathsheba, who became David’s wife, but only after they had an affair, David conspired and then ordered the murder of her first husband, one of his most loyal soldiers?
Would Joseph have said that the shepherds, as well as the two strangers at Jesus’ dedication at the Temple, confirmed what an angel had told both him and Mary, that Jesus is Israel’s long-awaited Anointed One?
Of course, Mary and Joseph did not send a Christmas letter. But God did. He sent it to us. The Father proudly proclaims His Son’s birth in His Christmas letter, which we label Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2, in which He details all these things . . . and more.
God’s messenger calls this good news of great joy, announcing to those forgotten-about keepers of the sheep, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Now that is a Christmas letter worth reading . . . and sharing.
Randy Jaspers, Northern Plains Regional Minister