This is from Part 3 of the RevGals Advent Retreat (see sidebar for a beautiful reflection by LutheranChik), a reflection on Joseph and his response to Mary's pregnancy:
. . . whatever Joseph's thoughts and fears...in the end he, like Mary, accepted the angel's challenge to not be afraid. Like Mary, Joseph said "yes" to God. And Joseph said "yes" to Mary in a way that models what it means to be a person for others, someone whose love is willing to take risks on behalf of the lives of other human beings.
And this is for those for whom the church year is beginning and the secular year is coming to a close in a context of terrible sadness and grief:
We can try to be someone for others.
I know of at least two women who have lost/are losing beloved partners this season, leaving them to raise young daughters alone. My father, who has been widowed three times, has told me that it was actually easier when he was younger and had small children to care for than when he was much older and the children and their families were dispersed and caring for themselves. I have the feeling that his definition of "easier" is quite broad and may indicate more about the vagaries of memory than it does about what his reality was, but nevertheless, there it is: trying to be a person for others.
Last year someone told me that it meant a great deal to her to see me in worship leadership during the holidays, knowing that I was experiencing them as she was. I relate that not to pretend that I am some kind of person that I am not, but only to indicate that sometimes in just barely showing up we are people for others, whether we know it or not.
It doesn't sound particularly risky, I suppose, to be the dad who gets up and scrambles eggs every morning after his wife has died, or the leader who opens a Bible at a lectern in a safe and warm church after her child has died. It doesn't sound risky unless you have been there, filled with fear for all of your loved ones and anxiety about the next minute, hour, and day.
For all who are there now: the angel doesn't tell Joseph that it will be easy. The angel tells him that he is called to be a person for others. As are we all.