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The Christmas Story Retold

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Chapter 2

Joseph, Mary


Her Secret

Now when Mary reached the age of twelve, sadly, the priests had a dilemma, for the child was approaching womanhood and her periods could defile the sanctuary. The high priest therefore went into the holy of holies and prayed concerning the matter. As he did so an angel appeared and instructed him,

‘Assemble the widowers of the people and let each of them bring a rod. To one the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be.’

So the widowers came, gave their rods to the high priest which he gathered and took into the temple and prayed. Returning to the men he gave each rod back to them, the last being to Joseph. As he received it a dove flew out from it which then landed upon his head.

‘Joseph,’ the high priest said, ‘this sign clearly indicates, you have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the virgin of the Lord.’ To which Joseph at first protested saying,

‘I have children and am an old man and she is a young girl, I shall be scorned and made to look foolish.’

But after a warning from the priest concerning those who contradict the Lord, he relented and accepted her into his house.

 However, Joseph was a carpenter and had to leave Mary at his home while he travelled abroad building houses. While so doing Mary was chosen by the high priests to perform a special sacred and holy task in assisting the preparation of a new veil for the temple.

During this time when Joseph was away from home and while spinning the scarlet and purple threads for the veil, she was out with her pitcher to fetch water. Suddenly, while alone, she heard a voice addressing her,

'Dear woman, you who has received such grace; the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’

Looking around to see from where this voice came, she saw no one. Troubled by this she hurriedly returned to her house but as she put down the pitcher an angel of the Lord stood before her,

‘Fear not, Mary; for you have been found worthy before the Lord of all, and you shall conceive a child, according to His word’

Confused by this she reasoned with herself, saying:

‘Shall I conceive by the Lord, the living God and give birth like any other woman?’

‘No Mary for the power of the Lord shall overshadow you and through the Holy Spirit shall you conceive a child that shall be called the Son of the Most High and you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.’

Wherefore Mary in faithful humility replied,

‘Then so let it be unto me according to your word.’

The angel also informed her that her cousin Elizabeth was bearing a child so Mary left home for the hill country to be with her. When she arrived at the home of Elizabeth and Zacharius, and announced her arrival, the baby Elizabeth was carrying leapt for joy in her womb, bearing witness to her of the child Mary bore, 

‘Oh blessed am I' she declare, 'that I should have the mother of my Lord come to my home!’


For the next six months Mary stayed with her cousin and grew big with child but, then it was time to return home and face the consequences of her condition.

Soon after she arrived Joseph returned from building houses to find the Temple Virgin he had been chosen to safeguard, pregnant. Immediately he confronted her, assuming she had been unfaithful and although she protested her innocence he was upset and confused what he should do concerning her? The law demanded he should send her to the priests, but punishment would be severe. Could he hide her secretly? However, they were soon visited by a temple scribe who observed her condition and informed the authorities. Both Joseph and Mary would have to stand trial before the high priest.

But that night an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and reassured him that Mary was still a virgin, that the child was of God, to be named Jesus for he was sent to be a saviour of all mankind.

Nevertheless they both did submit to the priests and stood trial. Joseph was accused of having Mary before being married to her and Mary for losing her virginity after all the blessings she had received of the Lord. Of course they both pleaded their innocence, declaring the child to be born was not of man’s doing but was of God.

Now there was an ancient process established by Moses that tested whether a person was guilty or innocent. It involved them having to drink holy water mingled with the dust from the tabernacle[1]. But though both Joseph and Mary drank the waters and were sent away into the hills, when they returned no harm had befallen them. The high priest therefore declared,

‘As the Lord God has not judged you guilty, neither do I, Joseph and Mary you are therefore free.


[1] Numbers 5:16-28


Rebels Lane

Adventures of the Mind

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