URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 23rd December 2020

Wednesday 23rd December – The Cherry Tree Carol

Other than he was an honourable man who encountered the Divine in his dreams, we know little of Joseph.  This lack of knowledge inspired people over the years to wonder how he really felt when learning that Mary was with child.  The Cherry Tree Carol is one such attempt.

St Matthew 1: 18-25

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’  All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son;[b] and he named him Jesus.

The Cherry Tree Carol
Traditional

you can hear this carol here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYaFGSG_x80

When Joseph was an old man, 
an old man was he,
he married Virgin Mary, 
the Queen of Galilee.
He married Virgin Mary, 
the Queen of Galilee.

Joseph and Mary 
walked through an orchard green.
There were cherries and berries, 
as thick as might be seen.
There were cherries and berries, 
as thick as might be seen.

Mary said to Joseph, 
so meek and so mild:
Joseph, gather me some cherries, 
for I am with child
Joseph, gather me some cherries, 
for I am with child

Then Joseph flew in anger,
in anger flew he;
let the father of the baby 
gather cherries for thee!
Let the father of the baby 
gather cherries for thee!

Then up spoke baby Jesus,
from in Mary’s womb:
bend down the tallest branches, 
that my mother might have some.
Bend down the tallest branches, 
that my mother might have some.

And bend down the tallest branches, 
it touched Mary’s hand.
Cried she: Oh look thou Joseph, 
I have cherries by command
Oh look thou Joseph, 
I have cherries by command.

Reflection

Rough-hewn hands.
  Labourers hands.
  Dry and cracked from years of working.
A carpenter.
  A joiner.
  An honest and righteous man. 
Worried about disgrace.
  Upset.
  Confused. 
Normal life turned upside down.
  Disorientated.
  Unexpected. 
God speaks.
God saves.
God’s son. 

There’s something utterly unusual and abnormal in the midst of something entirely unremarkable and unsurprising. Amid a normal man’s life comes the most extraordinary and most disrupting. Within a life that was planned and ordered, within a life that was settled and secure, comes the disorientation, the uncertainty, the doubts about the future. 

We’ve all experienced our fair share of that this year. 

And yet, into all that is going on, into the personal doubt and anguish, to one about to walk away, God speaks a word of freedom and peace. Speaks not only a word, but The Word. 

How often have we needed to hear that this year? 

Rough-hewn hands.
  Labourers hands.
  Dry and cracked from years of working.
A carpenter.
  A joiner.
  An honest and righteous man. 
Transformed by good news.
  Dreamy visions.
  An angelic voice. 
Normal life filled with uncertainty.
  Different patterns.
  A new normal. 
Uncertainty.
Expectation.
Surprise.
Delight.
God speaks.
God saves.
God’s son. 
 
Prayer

Extraordinary God,
you touch the lives of young and old alike,
in moments of surprise
with words of comfort.
Speak through our dreams and visions
that your incarnation among us
can be truly God with Us. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *