Hey Joe

Life can get messy sometimes...

Huw Williams | 18:27, Sunday 16 December 2012 | Turin, Italy

I guess we should have seen that something was wrong. He had been as happy as a man could be, and we had got so used to him working cheerfully in the workshop – whistling away as he worked on his latest project. After all, he'd found himself a good girl, they were getting married and he was looking forward to the big day, and to settling down with his new Mrs. But all of a sudden, he wasn't the same old cheerful Joe all the guys in work knew. Overnight he became quiet, thoughtful, moody, as though something big was on his mind. When we asked him about it he said he was fine, so we just thought it was a bit of wedding nerves. I mean, everyone gets a bit nervous before the big day, don't they?

It was such a shock for him – well, it was a shock for all of us...

That's when he asked me for a quiet word in our lunch break, and he told me that he knew his girl had been playing around! She had a baby on the way, and it wasn't his - poor guy! It was such a shock for him – well, it was a shock for all of us, because of all the girls in the village, Mary was the last girl you'd expect to be doing that kind of thing. Now I don't know why, but when something like this happens, there's one question that everyone wants to know isn't there? - who is the father? There's something inside us that seems to need to know. I wanted to know, Joseph wanted to know. If the father was someone around here, I'd want to have a little word with him, because you don't do that do you? – playing around with someone else's fiancé. But then, she'd been away staying with family somewhere, so maybe the dad was someone from over that way.

So I asked him straight - "Who's the Dad?" – he said he'd been asking himself the same question for days, but he didn't have a clue. Anyway, he was heartbroken. Even though he knew he couldn't marry her now, he didn't want to make things any worse for her either. So he was going to break the engagement – quietly, without any fuss, without everyone knowing about it. He's good like that, Joseph – a really decent guy. I think if I was him, I would have told the whole world what she'd been up to. Anyway, that's how he wanted it, and that's why he wanted a word with me, because he needed a couple of witnesses to go with him to the priest, to get the divorce done quietly. It was all arranged - after work next Wednesday, we were going to see the priest and get all the paperwork done.

But before next Wednesday came around, he came into work looking like he'd seen a ghost.

But before next Wednesday came around, Joseph came into work looking like he'd seen a ghost. Actually in another quiet word over lunch and he said he'd seen an angel! He reckoned that last night while he was sleeping, an angel from God came and spoke to him! And get this – here's what he said the angel told him! - he said that the baby Mary was having was from the Holy Spirit – from God. He said that Mary hadn't been messing around, that this was a miracle from God – a virgin having a baby! And the angel told Joseph to marry the girl, and that she was going to have a boy, and that they were to give him the name Joshua - Jesus – "the Lord saves".

Now I don't know what it is about people called Joseph and their dreams, but I had to stop him at this point, "Hang on, Joe" I said, "Are you telling me that yesterday you were walking around like a dead man because you didn't know who the father of this baby is, and today you are telling me that the baby's father is... like... God?!" "Yes!" he said, eyes like saucers, "that's exactly what I'm telling you! The angel told me that this baby is from God and that we are to call him Jesus, because this boy will save his people from their sins."

Well, what was I supposed to say to that? I felt for the man, I really did. He was desperate, obviously. I had a go at my best sympathetic look and said "look, I know you're going through a hard time, but I think you're cracking up..." But the next thing, he was pulling his copy of Scriptures out of his tool bag (he always has been a bit keen on his Scriptures) "Am I?" he said, "then look at this! - the book of Isaiah – written 800 years ago! - here's what it says: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, God with us.' "  Well, I must admit that I haven't read my Scriptures as much as I would have liked, but this sounds pretty interesting, doesn't it? This is what God promised would happen 800 years ago, and this is exactly what Joseph is saying is happening now. And the two things do seem to fit together, don't they? One thing is for certain, Joseph was absolutely convinced, because on one day he was set on breaking the engagement, and the next day the wedding was back on! And even now he is as certain as ever, that he knows who the child's father is – and that this child is the Son of God – Immanuel - God with us.

All I know is that something big happened to change Joseph's mind that night, because he's a different man now.

Well, people aren't stupid, they know how to count back nine months from a wedding. And not many people haven't worked out that Joseph and Mary's wedding was less than nine months ago. And sure enough, they have had a baby boy and they have called him Jesus. And of course, everyone has got an angle, they all have their own ideas about where this baby came from, about who his dad is, and a lot of them are saying some pretty nasty things about Joseph's wife. Some of them are saying some pretty nasty stuff about old Joe. All I know is that something big happened to change Joseph's mind that night, because he's a different man now. But then again, if he is right, if this child is God with us, here to save us from our sins, then that would change everything, wouldn't it? Some of the guys around the village think Joseph is crazy, but I'll tell you what is really crazy – hearing Joseph's story and doing nothing about it. Because there's no getting away from it, we've got to make our minds up – either Mary is lying and Joseph is a fool, or the biggest miracle ever has just happened. It seems to me that there's no other way to see it; if this child is some other man's, if Mary has been playing around, then there's nothing to see here, except a girl who doesn't know how to say "no" and stupid old Joseph, asking for more trouble. But if it is true, that this baby's father is God Himself, then we'd better keep looking to see what this child is like, we'd better take a close look and see how he grows up, because I think we can expect him to be someone quite extraordinary.

I guess that will show us the truth... won't it?

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