A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story: Faith

Chapter Three

To start with Chapter One of “A Christmas Story: Mary”  click the link below:                                 https://mytreasuredfaith.com/2018/11/26/a-christmas-story/                        

“Joseph!” greeted Mary’s Father. “It is good to see you.” 

Joseph and his father-in-law exchanged a light embrace and a back-pat to one another. They stepped back and in the shadows of the setting sun. Mary’s father studied Joseph’s face before his eyes dropped to his clothes. 

“What’s this? Have you been hurt Joseph?” Mary’s Father questioned, noticing the blood on Joseph’s clothing.

“No, I’m fine. The blood is not mine. It’s from this poor foal that I rescued on my way,” replied Joseph.

The two men removed the beaten animal from the back of Joseph’s donkey. A servant was summoned and given instructions to feed, house and care for both animals. If anyone could bring the foal back to health, Joseph knew it would be his father-in-law’s servant Gad. He was widely known for his veterinary skills.

“Come in Joseph. I have a guest room prepared for you. I was hoping you would not delay when you received my message,” said his father-in-law.

Unspoken questions etched Joseph’s eyes. His father-in-law sighed and turned to go into the house. “You can clean up and change before dinner. After we eat, we’ll talk.”

Mary was just rounding the corner of the house, basket of eggs in hand, when she heard his voice. It was Joseph. Her heart skipped a beat and her stomach fluttered. She stepped back to the corner of the house, hidden from Joseph and her father. She leaned against the stone wall and closed her eyes. “God in heaven,” she prayed, “I know you are with me, for who is like the Most High?” 

When her father picked Joseph as her husband, she could not have been more overjoyed. Joseph had been hired to do several large carpentry projects that required on-site building. She learned he was a Godly man, a very talented carpenter and handsome besides. She had fallen in love with him even before her father had asked her if she would be pledged to him. 

Now, her father forbade her to see him. “Will Joseph believe me, God, even though my own father cannot?”

Mary stood quiet in the evening shadows and could not be seen by either man but could hear their conversation. She listened intently to every word spoken. Her father denied her to contact or to talk with Joseph in any way. But, he said nothing of looking at Joseph or listening to him. She did both and watched as they greeted one another.

Gad led the stumbling foal and Joseph’s donkey to the barn. He passed close to where Mary was listening and watching the men and wondered what she would do. He had known her since she was born, and felt fatherly love for her. She was always a humble, sweet spirited girl. He had never known her to lie. And somewhere within him, even though her story was strange, he believed her.

Mary was so engrossed in seeing Joseph, she hadn’t even noticed Gad pass so close by her. When Joseph and her father went into the house, Mary turned to go as well. She would be having dinner alone tonight as she had every night since telling her parents she would soon be with child, if not already.

Mary stared at her plate of food. She couldn’t eat knowing her family sat with her betrothed in the other room. She wanted to see his face, hear his deep voice and hold his rough hand. Silent tears rolled over her face as she envisioned her father telling Joseph his version of her pregnancy. Her mind rolled back to just three weeks ago. She revealed to her parents what had happened to her the day after being visited by the angel. She told them exactly what she saw and what Gabriel said. But her mother and father did not believe her. They accused her of adultery and trying to cover up the adulterous act with an outlandish story. They surmised she made up the story after hearing about Elizabeth’s pregnancy.

“At least Elizabeth didn’t claim a virgin pregnancy!” they exclaimed. “And Zachariah was the one, a priest, who saw the angel. Who are you, Mary? Who are you that God should send His angel to you? How could you do this to us? How could you do this evil to Joseph?”

All Mary could do was proclaim her innocence, and weep. She believed every word from God spoken through the Angel Gabriel. She would never relent. No matter the cost, she was a servant of the Most High God and would believe what He told her even in the face of rejection. 

“You will tell no-one about this, especially not Joseph,” demanded her father. “We will wait, and see what happens. And if something does happen, I will let Joseph do whatever he sees fit.”

Mary knew what her father’s encrypted words meant. If she was found to be pregnant upon missing her menses, she would be accused of adultery, divorced and possibly worse. 

Now, here she was, two weeks past due menses and Joseph was here. If only I could talk with Joseph and tell him the truth, she thought. 

After dinner, Joseph and Mary’s father went out in cool night air for a walk. Small talk ensued, but Joseph could take it no longer.

“Tell me what is going on,” he demanded of Mary’s father. “Why was Mary not present at dinner? What is so urgent that I must come right away, but when I arrive, is so unimportant that you delay in telling me? Stop with the trivial talk.”

A long silence followed. Mary’s father had rehearsed how he would tell Joseph that his betrothed was pregnant, but now he couldn’t find the words. He loved his daughter and he was afraid for her. He was horrified and angry when Mary told him her preposterous story. Now he could only feel sorrow for her future.

“Mary is….,” he could hardly say it out loud, “with child.”

The words hit Joseph like a thousand rams, wild and unrestrained that trampled and crushed his heart. He let out a grown from deep within,”no! this can’t be.”

“Joseph,” said Mary’s father, let me tell you….”

“Leave me,” Joseph shouted, his voice hard and harsh. 

Mary’s father left Joseph to his grief. He had not walked far when he heard Joseph’s unrestrained weeping break though the still cool night. He stopped. He would wait, then go and see if he could comfort Joseph in some way. He cared for him deeply, as a son. 

Oh Mary, what have you brought upon me? were the thoughts of both father and betrothed.

The sun rose upon Joseph’s grief as if nothing had happened. He spent the morning in prayer refusing breakfast. At mid-morning he thanked Mary’s mother for her hospitality and told her that he would speak to both her and her husband at the evening meal. The rest of the day was spent in fasting and prayer in the seclusion of a grouping of trees he discovered by the river’s edge. 

So many emotions washed over Joseph, he didn’t know what to do with them. One moment he was angry the next he just wanted to see his bride. Ahh, his bride, what would he do? The day was hastening away. He sat under a tree and threw rocks into the river listening to the splash, and thinking. And hurting.

“It’s a g-g-good place to th-think,” a voice from behind Joseph said.

Joseph turned to see the servant who had cared for the rescued foal. “Gad, isn’t it?” Joseph asked.

“Yes,” replied Gad. 

“Come and sit. I could use some company in my misery.”

Gad sat down next to Joseph. Neither man saying anything for a while.

Then Gad turned to Joseph and said, “I’ve ne ne never known M-M-Mary to lie. If sheee said she h-h-heard from God through an-n-n angel, I b-b-believe her.”

“What” Joseph questioned. “are you talking about?”

“You haven’t t-t-talked to Mary or heard all of th- the facts,” Gad replied. He hated his stutter, but he had to speak with Joseph.

“What other facts do I need to know? My betrothed is pregnant. There’s only one way that happens.”

“N-Not according to Mary, or the angel, or the pr-pr-prophets for that matter,” Gad responded.

“And what do you know of angels, or prophets? Or maybe I should be asking, what do you know of Mary?” Joseph accused.

“Of angels, I know l-little. Of the prophetic scripture, I know quite well. Of Mary, I have known of since her birth. She is like my very own daughter. One, I am very proud of,” Gad countered.

“Ha! Then, you know nothing if you are proud of her actions. Are you even aware what she has done?” Joseph could hardly spit out the words for clenching his teeth.  

“Are you aware of what she has not done?” Gad pushed back. 

Gad did not wait for a reply. He forged ahead and became a voice for Mary. He told Joseph all that Mary had said about the angelic visit and her virgin pregnancy.

“Why should I believe such a story?” Joseph questioned

“You are a man of belief in the one true God, you must have faith just as your very own ancestors had faith,” said Gad. 

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command so that what was seen was not made out of what was visible. 

Hebrews 11:3

By faith, Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of righteousness that is keeping with faith.

Hebrews 11:7

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Hebrews 11:8

Joseph stood to his feet. He needed to get back to the house and clean up before dinner. He was deep in thought and hadn’t noticed something miraculous just took place. But Gad noticed and praised God. Somewhere in the conversation about Mary and faith, Gad no longer stuttered. Now he wanted to talk to someone, anyone. Joseph had already walked away. Where were people when you needed them!

Joseph’s legs felt heavy as he walked to Mary’s home in silent depressed thought. Gad was right about faith. Joseph was finding it easier to believe God’s miracles and intervention in his ancestors he heard and read about rather than his own life. Surely, God would choose someone greater than him and Mary for bringing about His plans. I am only a carpenter, he thought.  He would question Mary’s father about her claims tonight. But he had made his decision already. He would divorce her.

Later that night at dinner, Mary’s father confirmed the unbelievable story of an angel speaking about the Holy Spirit and delivering God’s Word to Mary. Joseph wanted to believe it, but he just could not. He informed Mary’s father that he would divorce her quietly. He wouldn’t say more than that to her father, but he still loved her so very much.

Thank you for reading “A Christmas Story.” To continue with chapter four, click on the link: https://mytreasuredfaith.com/2018/12/06/a-christmas-story-belief-chapter-four/                                                                                                 To be notified of this and other great content, sign up to follow via e-mail. Be sure to also leave a comment!

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