Matthew 1:24 (MSG)
24 Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God's angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary.
The German theologian and rector of the University of Hamburg from 1960-1978, Helmut Thielicke, told of traveling to the United States by ship. While on the ship Thielicke noticed a German shepherd dog who had been placed by the dog's owner in the care of the crew. The owner made the trip by plane. Thielicke wrote that that was one miserable dog. The dog was in an unfamiliar world with strange scents and people it did not know.
On the return voyage, Thielicke noticed another dog on board the ship. Even though it was the same ship with the same crew, the dog's reaction to the trip was totally different. He was totally content. Why? Because the dog's owner was with him. Occasionally the dog would look up at its master as if to say, "This is a different world. I can't quite figure it out. But you are here with me and because of that I trust that everything will be ok."
Joseph's world was suddenly turned upside down when Mary told him that she was pregnant. Joseph knew it wasn't his child and so he had a tough decision to make. He could have her stoned to death or he could abandon her quietly. Then an angel came to Joseph in a dream telling him that Mary's child was God's son. Suddenly, Joseph felt the presence of God and knew what he must do. Joseph would be Jesus' earthly father. He would be the human presence that Jesus needed as he was growing up. As the Episcopal Priest and author, Robert Capon, says in his book, Parables of Grace,
Joseph, there, is preeminently an empty vessel. A father who, according to tradition, did no begetting, a simple carpenter who understood almost nothing and who died before he could understand more, he ranks now above prophets and kings precisely because, in his own emptiness, he carried, kissed, clothed, and cared for the one who emptied himself for our sake.1
During this season of presents ask yourself how you can be a God presence to someone else. Think about it.
1 Robert F. Capon, Parables of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986), 57.