Most of my life, I think I’ve been a Mary. I’m a creator. A dreamer. A Spirit-filled woman bearing new life into the world. I haven’t spent much time thinking about or contemplating Joseph. Growing up, our church’s Christmas pageant focused more on Luke’s version of Jesus’ birth. Gabriel approached Mary. Mary sang. The focus of the drama was mostly Mary. Joseph always seemed along for the ride.
This Advent I find myself sitting with Joseph. Joseph, the man barely mentioned in the New Testament. Joseph the steady and faithful follower of Torah and God. Joseph, the step-father of God. Can you imagine being the stepfather of God? Goodness knows, being a step-parent is hard enough. I can only imagine the fear and trepidation of learning your call is to parent the child of the Holy Spirit. It takes the ubiquitous step-child’s slam–“You’re not my real father/mother”–to a whole new level.
Perhaps that’s why so little is written about him. So little folklore told; so few carols sung. Step-parenting doesn’t tend to inspire sugar plums, silver bells, or sleigh ride melodies. Joseph, like most step-parents, doesn’t play the sensational or show-stopping role. He’s not the character most authors focus on. And step-family stories are not usually the ones we like to tell at Christmas. But this Advent, Joseph’s is the focus of the lectionary, and in reality, each year we tell the story of a step-family. I can’t help but wonder what that would mean to blended families if we talked about this story in that way.