An unusual Christmas exhortation -good fodder for table talk!
This meditation is from Christmas Days by Geoff Shattock.
It’s very hard to know whether you are making the right decision in certain circumstances. If you are wise you will try to take all the factors you can into account. If you are ethical you will want to be true to your beliefs. If you are considerate then you will want to maximize human dignity and minimize human pain, especially if your decision affects others. If the decision is very important to you personally, then you will want to ensure you are being honorable in all aspects.
Such was Joseph’s moment. Faced with the dilemma of the young woman -whom he loved and was in covenant to marry- being pregnant and knowing the baby was not his, he did hsi very best to deal with it, with his shock and hurt and disappointment, in a thoroughly honorable way.
He tried to avoid scandal -which would have been ruinous for Mary- and decided to end their relationship discreetly leaving her as free from disgrace as possible. His motives were good; his intentions were caring. He attempted to be logical, rational and honorable -and he was wrong.
It is possible to make an honorable, ethical decision and still be wrong. This is particularly the case when thinking of giving up on someone or something. There is always a risk of incomplete knowledge and blurred vision. Perhaps you have to let someone go. It could be that you need to close something down. You may need to abandon a strategy and overhaul your approach.
At this moment Joseph did not realize he was part of something much bigger than he could see. It was greater than his concern about scandal (which would of course have been his scandal as well) and it was a completely different situation than that which he thought he was facing.
What he did not have was a divine perspective. We must be careful here -we cannot see things as God sees them because we are not God. What we can do is see things as God wants us to see them.
To wrap the events around this moment two other dynamics need to be considered. Firstly, Joseph was considering what he had. Using his mind, mulling it over, reflecting on it, looking at it from other angles he tried to come to a decision. Secondly, he slept on it. Again we must not miss the moment. Joseph didn’t just sleep on it to give himself more time. Joseph slept on it and God spoke to him in a dream. Once Joseph had received the message he completely reversed his decision.
When faced with a decision, you will want to do the honorable thing, but leave space for your own reflections and allow time for surprises from God. This is the season for surprises after all.