I’ve grown up my whole life reading stories of faith. When I was little, my parents read me Bible stories before I would go to bed. I would hear the stories of Daniel and David, Jacob and Joseph, Rahab and Ruth, and marvel at their faith. How did these seemingly normal individuals do such great things for God? They were heroes. Individuals that I looked up to. Men and women who had been narrated into God’s great story and were used by God to accomplish some great mission. As I’ve grown I wonder, what was it like for them to find themselves in the story of God? What emotions were they feeling? Was it a difficult experience? We read the stories in the past tense so it all seems natural, but while living it out in real time, it may have been a little messy.
Consider Mary and Joseph. We know the story. We’ve recounted it dozens of times over the past month, but have we considered what it must have been like for them to be asked to take a staring role in this ongoing narrative. Mary is a teenager when she is visited by the angel, telling her she is about to be a pregnant virgin, carrying the Son of God in her womb. It would be exciting and frightening at the same time. Imagine the confused emotions she must have been experiencing. Many of us as teenagers were just trying to keep our emotions from falling apart. Here she is carrying God in her womb.
Or imagine Joseph. He’s older than Mary, but he’s trying to trust her and her story. He wants to do the right thing, the honorable thing, but it must have been difficult as the rumors continued to swirl around them. Would he be able to love a child that was not his own? He was already trying to figure out how to be a husband, now he also has to figure out how to be a father at the same time.
But the story is not just about Joseph and Mary. It’s not just about these two newlyweds trying to determine how to live life together with the changes that have come that they didn’t expect. It’s a story that stretches back for generations. It’s a story of promises made to Abraham, to Moses, and to the prophets. It is a story that God will not abandon the creation, but will send the Messiah to make all things new.
Now Mary and Joseph are narrated into this story. They could never have imagined that they would be the ones God called on to bring hope to the world, yet here they were. From the time they were babies they had heard the promises and believed that God would one day act and usher in a new day. But, as they heard those stories, they would have never imagined God would work through them, but here they are. Here they are being asked by God to help carry the story forward. Here they are being asked by God to be the instruments to help bring peace to the world. They are being asked to care for the Christ child: to feed him when he is hungry, hold him when he is sad, and protect him from harm. Mary and Joseph find themselves in an important spot, helping to carrying forward the story of God, bringing salvation to the world. They were now apart of the grand narrative of God.
They were not the first to join God’s story. Many had been written into the story before. Nobody knew beforehand that they would be called on to accomplish some great task. Just like Mary and Joseph, David, Abraham, and Ruth were simply living life when one day the narrative changed and they had a part to play in God’s story. They were tasked with carrying the story forward. None were perfect, but through God’s help, the story continued.
And Mary and Joseph won’t be the last. Most of us would never imagine we would find ourselves in that place. We are simply living life the best we can. We’ve heard the stories of God since we were children, and we marvel at the stories, but we would never imagine God would call us into the story. But at some point God will ask. At some point we will be going through life and be narrated into a new story. God will present a task when we are not expecting it, and we will have the chance to follow. We’ll probably be scared, and slightly confused. We’ll probably even make mistakes, but through God’s help, the story will be carried forward. As God uses even us in the grand narrative of the world.