12/20/2012 5:00:00 PM Inspiration Corner: 'With Open Heart'
Barbara Steiner Special to the Times
As a nation there are stories that have inspired us. They have bound us together. Many of these stories are no longer told or known; yet they are very relevant today.
'With Open Heart'
How do I share with you? Please see me as a young girl growing up 2,000 years ago in the small town of Nazareth, Israel. My family named me Mary. We were honored to be descendants of King David. That did not mean we were wealthy.
I was taught the arts of homemaking by my mother. She was wise and skilled. My father trusted her. He used to say, "There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!"
When I was 16 I heard my father say to my mother, "Rachel, Mary is old enough to be married."
Mother paused, "Heli, are you telling me that you have received a proposal for our daughter?"
"Yes. Jacob, the carpenter, would like his son Joseph to marry our Mary."
As I listened to my parents, I was not sad or scared. I knew Joseph from a distance. Often I had seen him in the market laughing and joking with his younger brothers. I like to watch people. I could tell Joseph is a good brother. He loves his brothers and they admire him.
"Rachel, Jacob would like to begin legal proceedings for Joseph and Mary to be engaged. He is prepared to give the necessary presents. Then we can have the exchange of promises."
"Heli, I approve of Joseph's family. They are fair people and honor God in their home and business. I have seen Mary watch Joseph in the market. So I have observed him. I agree with the proposal"
A month later all had happened as my parents had said. A feast was held to celebrate my engagement to Joseph. During these months we are to wait before our marriage ceremony, we have not been permitted to talk together. Often we have looked at each other. When he looks at me, his expression has tenderness and I sense he wants to be with me.
Joseph does not know that I had an unusual visitor. If I say that my visitor was an angel, I will not be believed. But, I know that the angel Gabriel visited me. He greeted me, "You are to receive a wonderful honor. God is with you."
I was confused. What did Gabriel mean? He continued, "Do not be frightened. You will become pregnant and have a son. He is to be named Jesus. He will be great and the son of God. He will be given the throne of David and his kingdom will never end."
I asked Gabriel, "How can I have a baby? I am a virgin."
"Mary, God's Spirit will cause you to have this holy child. Nothing is impossible with God."
I answered, "I am willing to accept whatever God wants."
Even though Joseph does not know about Gabriel's visit, he has learned from my family that I am pregnant. He told my father, "I wish to break my engagement to Mary quietly. I do not want her to be publicly disgraced."
My father told me, "Joseph is a man of honor and he loves you.
Since then Joseph also has had an unusual visitor - an angel. But this one appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Continue with your plans to marry Mary. The baby within her was conceived by the power of God's Spirit. Name the child Jesus. He will save His people from their sins."
Joseph and I will be married soon. How will we talk about this child growing within me? What will our families feel when my baby is born before nine months have passed after our marriage? What will the townspeople say? We all know that I could have been punished for becoming pregnant before marriage.
Joseph and I will have hard times with cruel words said about us and Jesus, but we know that this child is from God.