Skip to content
Dec 19 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Imagining Christmas 2

To: Yeshua, my step-son and the Light of my life.
My Dear Yeshua,

I write you this letter, because I am dying and I wanted to leave you a record of things you could not know. Your mother and I have kept these things from you, waiting until we thought you were ready. However, it seems that from a young age you already sensed who you are and the destiny that beckons you. Still, I believe you will appreciate knowing certain events surrounding your birth and early life.

I left off working an hour before sundown, the beginning of another Shabbat. Passing through the marketplace I overheard two women talking. I’m sure they raised their voices to make certain I could catch every word.
“She seemed like such a nice girl,” one of them said, with a voice that clucked like a chicken.
“Yes, and from a decent family,” said the other, whose face was round like an owl’s.
“She was supposed to marry the carpenter. Their parents had arranged everything. But it’s just so sad,” clucked the first woman.
“Yes, sad. Sad that she would ruin everything by getting herself pregnant.”

Yeshua, I hope you never experience such heartache and anger. Of course, I did not believe what they were saying, but I was compelled to run straight to your mother’s house. Your grandparents told me your mom had gone off to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was in need of a helper. I thought I would go insane if I did not get answers right then, so even though it was rude, I asked them straight-out, “Is it true? Is Mary pregnant?”

Their sad faces confirmed the worst. “Joseph,” your grandmother cried, “you must listen to us.” But I had already turned my back and was rushing home. I did not care that the sun had set, Shabbat had begun, and running at that hour was unlawful. My world imploded and everything around me was crashing.

I know it’s been hard for you at times; the looks people gave you in the synagogue or the teasing and taunting of other children. But now I will tell you one of the secrets I kept from you from you all these years.

Sleep that night seemed impossible. I cried and cussed and kicked furniture around my room. I laid awake, torturing myself with visions of your mother in the arms of another man. Perhaps exhausted from grief and rage, my body finally relaxed and I slept. But in my sleep I received a visitor. God sent an angel to me. These are his exact words:

“Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because the Child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins.”

That’s right, an angel named you.

The next time I saw your mother, her eyes were filled with fear and pain. But before she could speak, I took her in my arms and said, “It’s alright, Mary. God sent an angel to me who explained everything.” That’s all I could say, because my throat grew tight when I felt your mother’s warm tears on my neck.

The trip to Bethlehem was very hard. We had to travel short distances and then rest. Your mother never complained, but she walked bent forward much of the time, and I hear an occasional groan. It was obvious that you were anxious to be born and you were not going to wait for us to settle somewhere comfy.

I was not happy about returning to Bethlehem. My family escaped that dirty, little village a few generations before I was born. We enjoyed the freer lifestyle up north, far away from the city of Jerusalem with it’s stupid politics and pompous hypocrites.

Yeshua, there was only one building in Bethlehem that you could call an inn, and it was crowded with people who got there before us. I went to taverns and even door to door hoping that someone would make room for us. Mary sat all day in the open square where visitors are usually greeted and offered hospitality. But there were too many guests and Bethlehem had no room for them all.

Oh, Yeshua, when a family is worn out and beaten down, even the smallest kindness seem like a priceless gift. I hope you always remember to be kind and good. I know that you will be true and righteous, but what people need more than anything is compassion.

A farmer had seen us on his way to the marketplace and when heading home he noticed we were still by the well. “What? No one has taken you in?” he asked. “Then come with me. you can at least spend a night in my stable.” His friendly voice lifted our spirits, and we thanked him over and over all the way to the stall in the field behind his house.

We had to duck our heads as we stepped inside. Then your mother grabbed my arm and said, “Joseph!” I could hear they urgency of her voice and she eased herself to the floor. Our host quickly drove the animals from the stable and called for his wife. She came running from the house and let out a yelp when she saw your mother tense and contracted on the ground.

I felt helpless and powerless. I took straw from the food trough and carried it outside for the livestock. Soon two or three other women from nearby homes were busy tending to your mother. Clay lamps were brought into the stall, because it was now dark. I stood in the doorway, ready to run and fetch anything they might need. But the women were calm and had everything under control. A short while later—well, there you were.

I had never been present for childbirth, so I thought something was wrong at first. Your face was red and all scrunched up. Your dark hair was flattened to your wet scalp. But the women were fussing over you—how perfect you were, how you had your mother’s eyes and your father’s strong hands. So I assumed you must be alright.

They bundled you warmly and let you nurse at your mother’s breast. It was not long before the two of you were fast asleep. Your mom, exhausted from traveling and travailing and you worn out from squirming your way into this world. I laid you in the food trough, then laid down beside your mother. I started a prayer for her and you, but drifted off into a deep sleep.

It was still early—long before the sun came up—when I was awakened by a blast of cold air. Your mother woke up and said, “Joseph?” There was someone standing in the doorway. “Who’s there?” I asked, and I tried to sound dangerous.

“Please”—it was a man’s voice—“is there a baby in here?”

Again Mary called my name, and she grabbed my hand in the dark. “Who are you?” I asked again. “What are you doing here?”
“We were sent by angels!”
“We’ve seen angels and they sent us here.”

By now our host had come from the house with a torch. “You there,” he said. “What do you want?” The door closed and we could hear voices talking indistinctly outside. I struck a light and put on a lamp. You began crying, so your mother took you in her arms and soothed you with her voice and fingertips.

The door opened again and the guest let four scruffy-looking shepherds into the stable. “What are you doing?” I asked.

His face was serious. “You need to hear this,” he answered.

The shepherds were staring at you with these silly grins on their faces. Their eyes looked like alabaster illuminated by an inner joy.

The oldest shepherd spoke, “We saw angels,” he said. “First one, then a whole army of them. Their voices thundered in the hills and if our sheep had not been in the fold, they would have scattered in all directions. The angels sang, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”

A younger shepherd interrupted, “The first angel said he brought us good news that would make everyone very happy. He told us, ‘Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’ That’s when he informed us that we would find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Isn’t that funny?”

Yeshua, your Father sent his angels to announce your birth. Nothing else about your birth was fancy. Everything was dirt-poor. There was nothing royal, dignified, beautiful or even cutesy about your delivery room. But your Father arranged a huge choir, greater than a Roman Legion, to announce to shepherds that you had come to earth.

And that is the secret I can keep no longer. I wish that I could live to see you begin your ministry. But God has different plans. I leave your mother in your care. Of course your step-brothers and sisters will help when they get a little older. By then you will be on your own.

But I tell you these things to confirm what you feel in your heart and what you have heard in your soul when you’ve walked the hills by yourself. I know that already you are close to God, and he meets you in your prayers. I know he has already told you things, though you’ve kept them from us. I trust your wisdom. But you need to know the miracles that surrounded your birth. you are human, like the rest of us. That is why you feel pain, and sadness, and humiliation. But you are also divine, the Son of God. And that is why you are Yeshua.

I would give you my blessing, but will save them for your brothers instead, because one day soon you will receive a blessing from heaven that will be greater than anything a step-father could give you.

Yeshua, I don’t pretend to know everything God has in store for you. I don’t know what joys you will experience or what pain you must suffer. Your face is still smooth and radiant with the light of youth and your eyes are clear and strong. But one day you will know the full burden of your destiny. When that day comes, be strong. Somehow you will save your people. Somehow you will bring hope to all the earth. Every broken heart, every sick body, every wayward person, every lost child will rejoice in your love and power.

The shepherds said such things. The magi said such things. The angels said such things. And I tell you such things. This is truth. The eyes of the world will be upon you—you who are God’s gift to the earth.

Take care, Yeshua. Know that I have loved you, and that in every way you have made me proud. Never forget that you are a miracle.

Your loving step-father,



Leave a comment
  1. Nancy J Lopez / Dec 21 2021

    This is wonderful! We don’t often view the Story from Joseph’s perspective. I’m reminded how your messages, especially this year, have given us new perspectives on many passages of Scripture. You have many spiritual gifts, dear Chuck. Thanks for leading our little community through a very difficult year. Christmas Blessings to you and Barbara and your families.

  2. Chuck Smith, Jr. / Dec 21 2021

    You are too kind, Nancy.

    Christmas Blessings also to you and Hank and your lovely family. –chuck

Leave a comment