It was a relationship where you would wonder if it actually would work out. Harold dropped out of school very young, and had only a Grade 7 education. He worked on a neighboring farm, scrimping and saving with the dream of one day purchasing his own farm. Marion, on the other hand was a working professional at a very successful car dealership. This was the early 1950’s, where she was the only female employee in a staff of over 20 employees. Marion could have dated any of those dashing young professionals at the car dealership. But after meeting Harold at a community dance at Edgar Hall, she fell in love.
Harold did get the farm of his dreams. But for Marion, there were some big issues. The farmhouse in which they were to move in together after she and Harold got married was not livable. In fact, it had been abandoned years earlier after a tuberculosis outbreak took hold within the house. In the years following, the house was used to store grain as a granary. Harold worked extremely hard to get the house ready for the time when he and Marion got married. Given the fact that the house was abandoned because of tuberculosis, Marion would not move in until it was fumigated. This was a real test early in their early lives. The house was fumigated. And they set up their lives together.
So who was this Harold and Marion? They were my mom and dad. The house that was fumigated was my childhood home. Mom and dad were married and lived in that same house for 21 years. Until a massive heart attack claimed the life of my dad in 1973. He was 47. My mom loved my dad so much that for the next 39 years until she died herself in 2012, she never ever took her wedding ring off. Now that is true love.
Harold and Marion had a real test in their early lives together. But love was more powerful. However, it pales in comparison to the testing of another young couple I was reading about. Their names were Joseph and Mary. Their story is found in the Bible in Matthew 1, starting in verse 18. Joseph was pledged to be married to Mary. They were bound to each other even though the wedding had not yet taken place. Mary had been chosen by God to deliver Jesus into the world, which at first Joseph knew nothing about. The village where Mary lived was Nazareth. From the website Jesus-Story, it mentions that excavations show how small Nazareth was in the time of Jesus. It had a population of about 400. So everyone definitely would have known everyone else. The people were physically robust, strong-minded, practical, respectful of traditional and loyal to family. In this setting Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
You can almost picture it. A rumor is spreading fast in this tiny village, Some elderly women in the family are whispering about the physical changes in Mary. But Joseph had never been intimate with Mary. So it seemed, someone else had. What a crushing blow! So the only logical conclusion Joseph could reach was that Mary had betrayed him and committed adultery. She tried to explain what happened, but Joseph couldn’t make any sense of it. There was a storm raging in Joseph’s soul. With deep hurt and disappointment, he began to fear his future.
But there is more to the story! Contrary to the opinions of others, Mary was not unfaithful. Her pregnancy was due to the power of God and not because she had cheated on him. The child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. An angel sent by God spoke to Joseph in a dream, telling him what had actually taken place. Joseph believed in God! He loved his Mary, the young woman he had pledged to marry. He was willing to sacrifice his honor, and his reputation to obey God and protect the woman he loved.
The previous three Sundays of Advent we lit the candles of hope, peace and joy. On the fourth Sunday of Advent we light the candle of love. Protection is an end product of love. For my dad he protected my mom by making sure that abandoned farmhouse was fumigated. Through what would have been extremely challenging times, Joseph stood by Mary’s side. Whatever lay ahead, he protected the one he loved. Despite no matter what rumors and gossip was being spread around. First Corinthians 13:6-7 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Matthew 1: 18-25, starting at verse18. “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah* took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son;* and he named him Jesus.”
God bless, keep safe and have a beautiful Christmas filled with hope, peace, joy and love….Carl