Joseph had fashioned a saddle papoose in which the baby Jesus could sleep. With Jesus securely in the papoose, Mary would occasionally walk with Rebecca.

Recalling ancient times

Joseph had traveled this route previously. He knew there was an oasis with a well containing good water. He had, however, underestimated the stop time Mary would require to nurse Jesus. It took longer than he had calculated.

During those stops, Joseph would talk about the ancient Israelites – how God made them his own people. He talked about the Joseph who became famous in Egypt. He talked about the Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness for forty years. He talked about Joshua and the securing of the land called Israel.

When they stopped for the night Reuben hobbled the donkeys and, as usual, looked for firewood. He started a small fire after which he helped Joseph erect the shelter.

Mary nursed Jesus while the donkeys were being unloaded. Rebecca brought out supper: barley flat loaves, cheese, dried fish and dried fruit. The water from the well was especially appreciated.

During the meal, Mary turned to Rebecca and asked, “You mentioned to me this afternoon that you were puzzled by recent events. What puzzles you?”

We are puzzled

“Reuben and I are puzzled by what we’ve seen and heard the past six weeks.”

“For instance, that night when Jesus was born, the shepherds came looking for a baby in a manger. They spoke of an angel talking about the birth of a Savior. What did they mean?”

Reuben joined the conversation. “When we were in the temple, the old man Simeon spoke of your baby as being one sent by God to be the salvation of mankind. And, then, there was Anna who spoke of this child being the one who would set free God’s people. Considering all the people in the temple how or why did they seem to know Jesus? And, what did they mean by “set God’s people free”?

We don’t understand

“There have been appearances and messages,” Joseph said, “to both Mary and me…messages that we don’t fully understand. Though we don’t always understand, we know that we have been called to be obedient.”

“Joseph and I were engaged – betrothed. Before our marriage rite an angel appeared and told me that I had been selected to be the mother of the Son of the Most High God. I was shocked when the messenger told me that I would become pregnant.”

“Joseph and I had not violated the code. I was a virgin!”

“After the angel left I ran to Joseph. I tried as best as I could to describe what I had heard. In tears I told Joseph what the angel had said.”

“Stunned by my words, Joseph listened to me but he didn’t believe me. He walked away from me.”

“The next morning he came back to me. During the night an angel had appeared in a dream. Because of what the angels said, Joseph had made the decision not to cast me aside. He had made the decision not to shame me. He graciously consented to care for me and the child.”

“After we talked that morning, I asked Joseph to write down the angel’s words.”

Joseph spoke. “We have tried to write down a description of each event and as many of the words as we can remember.”

The words of Gabriel

“Here’s what I wrote about the event we call The Annunciation…as best as Mary could remember the words of the angel: ‘Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has been gracious to you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king as his ancestor David was, and he will be the kind of the descendants of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!’” (Luke 1:30f)

“In spite of Mary’s protest…declaring she was virgin, the angel continued with the words, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God’s power will rest upon you. For this reason the holy child will be called the Son of God. Remember your relative Elizabeth. It is said that she cannot have children, but she herself is no sixth months pregnant, even though she is very old. For there is nothing that God cannot do’ (Luke 1:35f).”

After reading his account of The Annunciation, Joseph said looked at Rebecca and Reuben and said softly, “We have to remember, ‘For there is nothing that God cannot do’ (Luke1:37).”

When Joseph finished Mary added, “God sent the angels to the shepherds. They came to the shed because they had been given a message – a message bathed in the glory of song.”

“Did you know,” Mary asked, “a few days later that Joseph, Luke and Stephen went out to Elijah and the shepherds? Joseph went to ask them to describe all that they had seen and heard that night?”

So many questions

Mary continued, “We have so many questions. What does it mean that this baby will become a king…the king of the descendants of Jacob…the king who will reign over a kingdom that will never end?”

Joseph continued, “I too am puzzled. For instance, if this Jesus is to be a king, why did God send him to be the child of a virgin? If this Jesus is to rule over God’s kingdom, why did God send a child…why didn’t he just send a man?”

“I am overwhelmed,” Rebecca stated, “By the words Simeon said to Mary, ‘and sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart’ (Luke 2:35).”

(Italicized from the Good News Bible: Today’s English Version — 1976.)

The Rev. R. Rudolf is a retired Lutheran clergyperson. You may contact him at R3Rudolf@yahoo.com.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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