Advent Reflection: Married Treasure

Just before our wedding day, my father asked if Joe and I were planning to ride away from the reception on a donkey. It was the first time anyone had ever joked about the fact that we shared the names of Christ’s parents, Joseph and Mary. Given the fact that our car didn’t start when it was time to leave for the honeymoon, a donkey may have been useful.

But fast-forward 35 years, and Joe and I will soon embark ona new adventure. In six months, he will leave his job of 23 years and we don’t know where we are going.

On one hand, this is an incredibly special time of our lives.  Our brief engagement and long years of parenting gave us little opportunity to enjoy being a family of two. 

But the uncertainty is also real. We don’t have enough money saved to retire even if we wanted to. We want to live near Charlottesville, but it isn’t a metropolis where jobs are aplenty. We may have to move out of state, away from family. That means I will have to find a new job too.

The insecurity I feel turned my thoughts to the iconic Joseph and Mary who faced uncertainty too. We all know the story, but do we absorb the craziness of it? An unwed pregnancy would have been enough distress for even the strongest couple, but the infamous donkey ride at 39 weeks; no available lodging; giving birth in a barn. How did Mary find peace in spite of these mysterious, uncomfortable circumstances?

She treasured what was happening.

Luke 2.19 is the first time this is mentioned. It was in the smelly barn, after the shepherds had come and gone, when “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  I don’t know about you, but when my circumstances stink I want them cleaned up ASAP. I definitely ponder the odd things happening in my life, but it’s more like needless worry and unholy stewing, especially if I feel Joe is playing a role in my discomfort.

But I have a long history with Joe that I shouldn’t take for granted. Like his biblical counterpart, he is a righteous man trying to do God’s will.  That is something to treasure, for sure. 

I also have a long enough history with God to know that present-day burdens evolve into seasons of praise.  To treasure the mysteries of marriage is to accept them in their raw and painful form, knowing God’s faithfulness and eternal plan are far greater than what we see here and now.

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[d] (which means “God with us”).

2When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 1.18-25

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