Tue Dec 7-Duty Bound Dreamer

During Advent, we are featuring devotionals written by clergy of the Greater NJ Annual Conference of the UMC. For this second week, we are focused on reflections related to Joseph, based on the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 1:18-25 (CEB)

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. 20 As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:

23 Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
        And they will call him, Emmanuel.[a]

(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)

24 When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus.


Duty doesn’t usually afford any choice.

That’s the nice thing about it.

No ifs, ands, or buts.

A clear path to an honorable life.

There is a flipside, of course.

Duty brings the safety of a weighted blanket

With the constraint of a straitjacket.

Duty brings clarity

Even where life is and should be blurry.

Duty prescribes action

But life is full of emotion – and thought.

Duty is black and white

And all I see is gray

Or, at times, bursts of technicolor.

But sometimes duty does offer choice,

Albeit limited choice.

If you have the right combination of chromosomes.

And phenotype.

Which I do.

The choice is before me
(while over, around, and under me life swirls in blurs, grays, technicolor)

This wretched choice.

To let her feel the full force of the law.
Public disgrace.

Or quietly go our separate ways.

This is the choice duty offers.
How to make anger and sadness and compassion and confusion and hope for redemption
– of this barely begun life together –


Into the confines of these options?

Hard options.
No room for the soft mess that this has made me.
I don’t know that I could live with the even bigger mess of her blood on my hands

— Her certain and sure fate behind “Door A”.

Maybe, then, the choice is made? “Door B”?
“I’ll take the duty behind Door B, please.”

Hm, I need to sleep.

Maybe in the morning I’ll know what to do.

By the Rev. Emily Wilton

For Pondering & Prayer

Can you think of a time when God intervened? Perhaps it was not quite like with Joseph, but maybe you were trying to discern your path and God helped guide you. What did that look like for you? In what ways does God speak to you?

Prayer: Lord, as we move into the new year, we ask for your guidance when we don’t know what comes next. May we look towards you to lead us. Amen.

Scroll to Top