Letter from our Vicar

Letter from our Team of Clergy and Readers - January 2019 (Continued from Home Page)

....In those days most people lived in small villages, separated from each other by quite large distances, so that there was sufficient land between them for them to grow their crops and pasture their animals.  For the survival of the village it was vital that each generation produced the generation to follow them - that couples who married would produce this "next generation ".

It was known then, as we do now, that men and women who are themselves perfectly able to be part of a reproductive process, might not do so if they were with the wrong partner.  Non of the medical tests available today to check on the likelihood of a particular couple producing a baby were available to them, so the only thing to do was to try it out ( have a go!).   Therefore couples were not married until the woman was pregnant.  Therefore the fact that Mary was expecting before she and Joseph were married was totally accepted by the society.

The person who had to be brought into the picture was Joseph.  An angel came to him, just as it had to Mary when she was told that she would bear God's child, to tell him not to worry that his " fiancée" was already pregnant, because this baby was from God, not from another bloke.
So, they had both been given quite a task by God - to rear and to bring up God's son - the only actual " Son of God " who has ever lived on earth.

And Mary too had been given the responsibility of keeping secret that this baby was God's, not Joseph's.   Though from the mention in the bible of " Jesus's brothers " we can learn that Mary, later, had children by Joseph.

We are inclined to be aware of the responsibility God had given to Mary because of the angel telling her she had been chosen to be God's son's Mum, before Joseph knew.

When Joseph discovered that his fiancée was pregnant - and knew it was not by him - he was naturally horrified.  We learn about his feelings for Mary from his decision not to make a great public thing of Mary, the fiancee whom he loved having let him down by having another man's baby.  But God reassured him that his fiancee's baby was not another man's but was God's own son. And that he along with Mary had been chosen as this son's parent.

Even before Jesus' birth they had a pretty difficult decision to make - that God's son should be born in a place important to the people of Israel - Bethlehem.  And that this was - for those days - quite a journey from Nazareth where they were living.  They had to decide that all those miles on the back of a donkey within hours of giving birth, were acceptable so that God's son should be born in an appropriate place.

And when they arrived they found that because of the significance of Bethlehem to the Jews all the rooms were full.  But one kind hearted Innkeeper was open to God's request (via Joseph ) to open his stable for this little family, and where the baby - and he could have had no idea how important this baby was - could be born warmly and safely amongst lots of others of God's creatures.