FROM THE ARTIST
Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity
When Joseph learns that his engagement has turned into a scandal, he decides to dismiss Mary quietly. While this choice may seem like a compassionate one, it’s also a passive choice, one with little cost to Joseph but great consequences for Mary. As an unmarried mother, she and her child would be incredibly vulnerable,shunned by society, perhaps cut off from family support and resources. This choice means Joseph’s reputation remains unharmed while pregnant Mary will live on with mounting shame and threats cast upon her.
While Joseph is thinking about all of this, perhaps deliberating about how he will delicately manage the social perceptions of this unexpected turn in his life, an angel comes to him in his dreams. What I find most interesting is that the angel doesn’t command Joseph; instead he simply says, “Don’t be afraid.” He essentially says: “Don’t be afraid of the social stigma. Don’t be afraid to become a parent through adoption. Don’t be afraid to experience a love greater than you have ever known. Don’t be afraid to make the courageous choice, the one that will not only change your life, but the lives of Mary and Jesus and so many generations who will come after you.”
In this image, I’ve captured Joseph in the liminal space where his dreams will soon shape his reality. He rests his head on a folded blanket, which represents the woven tapestry of his ancestors who also made difficult choices for good.Gold interconnecting lines,like the roots and branches of a family tree, envelop him, symbolizing the beautiful web of regeneration that will come from his courage.
As we reflect on the Christmas story through Joseph’s experience, may we, too, have the courage to choose a better way.
Breathe deeply as you gaze upon the image on the left. Imagine placing yourself in this scene. What do you see? How do you feel? Get quiet and still, offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.