by Christopher Harbin

Joy Is Born!
Christopher B. Harbin
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; Isaiah 7:10-16; Matthew 1:18-25

Our media portrays this a season of endless celebration, festivities, laughter, and contentment. For many, holidays are times of despair, loss, and grief over broken homes or the death of loved ones. Amid plastered smiles, many struggle through the season with burdens of despair and dread. Can joy flourish and grow amid turmoil, grief, doubt, despair, and expected disaster? How can joy find root when all we can anticipate is disgrace?

The announcement came unexpectedly. It could not have come at a worse time. Mary was already betrothed. In the eyes of the law and the community, she was already a married woman. For her to become pregnant before celebrating her marriage and moving into Joseph's home would be a disgrace. She could lose her life, though that was not necessarily the standard practice of the day. It was what the law defined for a woman pregnant out of wedlock, but it was not always carried out. More likely, her marriage would be dissolved before the wedding, and she would spend the rest of her days in disgrace.

She was still a young girl with most of her life ahead of her. The dreams of marriage, children, and caring for a family as her mother had done were all in jeopardy. Perhaps she would remain at home with her parents. Perhaps she would be forced into the street with adultery and prostitution the only recourses left for her support.

How much of this went through her head at the time of the angel's announcement, we will never know. They were serious concerns for any young woman of her day. Becoming pregnant out of wedlock could be disastrous to a greater degree than a young girl would experience today. There were no crisis pregnancy centers available. There was no Christian Women's Job Core available to prepare her for meeting her own financial needs without the aid of a working husband. It was a tough life that awaited any pregnant, unmarried girl ...

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