The Christmas Story as Told by Joseph
Today we're continuing with our special Christmas Character Series. The creative writing is by Brother Jonathan Scolaro, and Brother Andrew McNamara provided the artwork.
Shuff, shuff, shuff...
The steady rhythm of my planer slicing delicate shavings from the soft wood pauses at the sound of chirping insects. Glancing up, I notice my workbench gathering a pale orange tinge from the setting sun. Dusk. A cool breeze and dimming sky signal my permission to close shop for the day.
As the last of my tools nestles into its resting place with a kindly pat from my rough hands, I pause again. Looking at my hands, skin thick from many hard days labor cutting, shaping, and smoothing wood, it occurs to me, how do my rough hands compare to the soft, smooth skin of my young bride to be? A pang of embarrassment flares in the pit of my stomach.
But, no. My betrothed is the sweetest, most pure-hearted girl in the village. I cannot even fathom a trace of disdain in her loving gaze. Nervousness, that's all it is. Nervousness at our pending marriage and the fact that she has been away visiting her cousin these three endless months. How I miss her.
"Joseph?" A sweet, timid voice calls softly from somewhere outside. I spin around in joyful surprise.
"Mary?" Hastily wiping the sawdust from my hands and bounding for the door, I burst outside. There she stands, several paces off, radiantly beautiful, smiling up at me with soft brown eyes, a grey shawl pulled tightly around her face guards against the winter evening's chill.
"Mary, you've returned!" I start towards her with open arms. Then, unexpectedly, my steps slow to a halt. Something is wrong. Mary's smile transforms to an expression of soberness.
"Joseph, there's something I need to tell you. Something remarkable has happened!"
A sudden sickening sensation swells in the pit of my stomach. To my utter astonishment, my betrothed, standing before me, is visibly pregnant.
Dumbfounded, I stare stupidly at her. A wave of anguish explodes in my chest. The sweet, pure-hearted girl, who I'd felt certain God had blessed me with to wed is naught but a farce! Broken-hearted, deaf to her escalating pleas, I turn, walk slowly back to my house, and bolt the door shut.
"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."
I shoot bolt upright in bed, panting, eyes wide open scouring the darkness. It must be about midnight, and a thick silence tells me I'm alone in the house. But, moments before...was it a dream? Yes! But more than a dream, a visitation! Barely had I managed to cry myself to sleep when someone—it must have been an angel—stood before me in radiant whiteness! A brilliant light consumed my little house and a warm sense of loving peace fell upon me.
"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."
A deep, satisfying wave of relief washes over me. Had the angel stopped there it would have been sufficient. But there is more, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins..."
Now, as I sit alone in the darkness blinking in disbelief, the full significance of the angel's message slowly dawns on me. "Emmanuel?" "God with us?" What does it mean? What miraculous role does God have for Mary to play in the fulfilling of His prophecy? And am I to be her helpmate? What an honor, what a privilege—and I am but a humble carpenter!
Rolling from my bed to my knees, I bow before the Father in earnest prayer and thanksgiving. Whatever adventures await my wife and her miraculous child, I will humbly fulfill my role as their guardian and protector, serving God to my fullest ability.