Joseph’s Story


“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him.”
Matthew 1:24a

My room . . . at sunrise produces a camera abscura of inverted cupolas that ring the changes from rose through orange to straw color against the background of the sky. It likewise has the privilege of plastered walls – the plaster made from the crushed crystals with which the walls are built. These crystals have a word for us too, those crystals, for each of them sprang out of some atom of a growing point round which clustered crystallized this endless beauty of form. If we may but be a crystallizing point from which God can work, it matters nothing, how insignificant that starting point.  (8 November 1927)


Scripture:  Matthew 1:18-25

  • What was the relationship between Mary and Joseph at the point of this narrative?
  • What was Joseph’s initial response when he discovered Mary was “with child”?
  • What changed his course of action?
  • What information did the angel reveal to Joseph?
  • After the angel visitation, what did Joseph do?


Meditation on Scripture
Joseph’s role surely was the most awkward in the unfolding drama.  To begin with, his bafflement must have been overwhelming.  His normally sane, sincere betrothed was declaring herself pregnant – but not with his child.  Many a story has been contrived throughout the generations to explain an unexpected pregnancy.  But Mary’s story – conceived by the Holy Spirit – was, paradoxically, inconceivable!

The angel clarified Joseph’s unique position for sure, but there was still the skeptical friends and family.  Could he really expect them to “believe” their explanations?!

Auden effectively conveys in poetry Joseph’s Plight through the interjected voice of the Chorus: 

                                                Joseph, you have heard
                                                What Mary says occurred:
                                                Yes, it may be so.
                                                Is it likely?  No.

                                                Mary may be pure,
                                                But Joseph, are you sure?
                                                How is one to tell?
                                                Suppose, for instance…  Well…

                                                Maybe, maybe not.
                                                But, Joseph, you know what
                                                Your world, of course, will say
                                                About you anyway.

The Narrator concludes the struggles of Joseph with these words of counsel:

                                        To choose what is difficult all one’s days
                                        As if it were easy, that is faith.  Joseph, praise. 


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