In studying for a sermon, I discovered a few interesting thoughts regarding Joseph and Mary. In their day, people entered into a legal agreement in order to be engaged. To break an engagement for, let’s say, a fiancé getting pregnant by someone else, you needed to go through a legal process which was very public.
If Joseph filed for a “divorce” from the engagement, he would be making plain to everyone the baby was not his. Then the shame would fall like a thud on Mary. However, he decided to dismiss her quietly. That would communicate that he believed the child to be his. Looking like a deadbeat dad, the shame would be on him.
After deciding to spare Mary the humiliation, he then receives a dream about this special child who would save his people from their sins.
Whether it’s pregnancy out of wedlock, sexual abuse, sexual addiction or sexual aversion, shame falls upon us like a Crisco-covered blanket. The church has often simply added to the mess, leaving us feeling icky.
But thanks be to God for the one who despised the shame of the cross and took our sorrows upon himself. May we stay in step with his healing grace in the year that is before us!