“It is true. I am pregnant. This is what I wanted to speak to you about when I returned.”
Joseph felt as if the bottom had dropped out of his stomach. He shook his head and turned to one side.
“Mary, I do not think I can speak with you about this now. I need time to think.”
“But Joseph, I can explain this.” Her voice held the first hint of anxiousness.
“Perhaps. Nonetheless, I must have time to consider – time to pray.” He glanced at her then bent his eyes toward the ground. “I will speak with you later.”
He turned to go – then stopped as if there were more he wished to say – but continued through the gate without speaking again.
Mary watched Joseph walk out of the courtyard and then stood looking at the empty space where her betrothed had been moments before. She lifted her eyes toward heaven and whispered a prayer. Still praying, she turned back into the house.
Joseph did not accomplish much that afternoon. He was careful about his work so there were no more mishaps or wasted lumber. Yet, he thought little about the task at hand. Instead, his mind was on the problem that had been dropped into his lap that morning. What should he do about Mary? From what she had said it was clear that she had been with child before she left. Joseph had initially thought that she had become pregnant while away. However, it now appeared that the Father was. . . Joseph shook his head. It seemed that the best thing to do was to divorce Mary – to call off the marriage and move on with life. Joseph had no desire to further humiliate Mary or her family so he thought that the just course of action would be to take care of the divorce in as private a manner as possible. He straightened from his work and stared at the wall a moment.
“Yes, that is what I will do,” he thought. “But it is best to sleep on it before I act.” This time he spoke out loud. “I will give the problem a rest for the night and tomorrow I will have a more clear mind.”
He laid his tools in place and straightened up the shop. He had no appetite that afternoon so after his evening prayers he washed and went to bed.
In the middle of the night Joseph dreamed that he was standing in a large room. He could not discern its exact size because the only light that was in the room shone in a small circle around him. All at once he saw a bright light in the distance. As he watched, it became brighter and he could see a tall form at the center of the light moving toward him. He was oddly aware that he was not afraid, but instead, a sense of relief came over him as the towering figure stopped and began to speak.
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
A flood of understanding washed over Joseph as the angel continued.
“And she will bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
With a flash of light the messenger was gone and Joseph sat bolt upright in his bed. Without a moment’s hesitation he leapt from the bed and dressed. Then, not bothering to find a light, he rushed from his home and ran down the dark street to the house of Heli.