A radical nativity

Charles Maasz, our Chief Executive, reflects on the impact which Joseph, father of Jesus, has in the Christmas story. 

Change a life? In the Christmas story, Joseph’s decision to stay and not walk away from Mary and her unborn baby changed more lives than we can ever know!

Joseph’s challenge was not an insignificant one. I imagine his head hit the pillow the night that he found out Mary was pregnant with a sense of disappointment and regret. Mary, his betrothed, he now knows is pregnant by someone other than himself. She made claims of divine intervention. But for a man like Joseph – and for the chattering classes of Nazareth (or Ralston, Drumoyne or Bearsden) – that could mean only one thing. Irreparable damage to Mary’s reputation and a tainting of Joseph’s reputation that would last a lifetime.


In an honour culture, like many places in the world today, it would be unthinkable to marry a young girl without prospects, one assumes without dowry, and especially one carrying another’s child. Joseph’s selfless disregard for the customs and norms of his day provided shelter and security for the pregnant teenager and a family setting for the young Jesus.

Thankfully Joseph listened when visited by the Angel Gabriel and didn’t pass it off as a dream or hallucination. In acting courageously Joseph changed a life, and not only one, but his actions changed the course of the entire world. Joseph is no bit-part player in the Nativity story! 

Change a life

We are all, always, at liberty to move the world in one of two ways; to make it a bit more like the Kingdom of Heaven, or just a little more like hell. That may seem stark and extreme but it is the truth of our collective call to compassionate action. Do we think, act and speak out of a real desire for peace and justice? Or do we walk on by in the hope that others will do what is required? How might the world be further changed by a people all prepared to do what is right, because it is right, no matter the cost or inconvenience?

The challenge of our Advent message is the same for us in many ways as the Advent message was to Joseph. Will you _____ (insert name as appropriate) change a life? We invite you to bring a little light into a life today.

Have a very blessed Advent, a peaceful Christmas, and a hope filled New Year.

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