When Joseph found out about Mary’s pregnancy, at first he must have been a bit angry! He must not have believed her story and that she was pregnant by a special grace of the Holy Spirit. Even though they were engaged and not yet married, to break up their relationship was considered as a very serious thing at that time. Joseph did not want to make Mary unhappy, so he was spending a lot of time thinking about what he was to do. But in a dream, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to trust Mary. The angel also told Joseph that the child should be called Jesus. Having a vision in a dream from God was a sign of God’s approval, so this would have made Joseph believe what Mary had told him and do what the angel had said!
Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin and her father was a temple priest. Zachariah, her husband, was also a temple priest. He was thought of as a very holy and kind man. Both Zachariah and Elizabeth would have been over 60 when this story took place. Zachariah was an important priest in the temple and it was his turn to go to the temple and sprinkle incense on the altar and burn it. At this place an angel appeared by the altar. The angel was Gabriel, the same angel that had visited Mary. The angel told him that Elizabeth was to have a baby boy and that his name was to be John.
The name John means ‘The Lord is Gracious’. He was to be called this because God had been kind to Elizabeth and Zachariah by giving them this child. Gabriel’s words to Zachariah meant that when John was to become a man, he was to be the chosen one to tell the people about Jesus. Zachariah didn’t really believe the angel and asked him to prove this to him, so Gabriel made Zachariah dumb, until he believed what the angel had said to him. Elizabeth did become pregnant as the angel had told Zachariah .The words that Elizabeth told Mary when they met show that Elizabeth already knew that Mary was to have a very important baby; and that her own baby would also have something to do with Mary’s baby.
When Mary left Elizabeth and Zachariah and went home to Nazareth, Elizabeth would have been about nine months pregnant and Mary would have been about three months pregnant.
So it would not have been long after this that Elizabeth did give birth to John. When it was time to name the baby, it was natural for the family to think that it would be called Zachariah after his father, as this was normally how baby boys were named. But Elizabeth knew that he had to be called John. The family would have doubted this, so they asked the still dumb Zachariah what he should be called. As soon as he wrote down the boy’s name, as the angel had said, he started to speak again.
Mary was probably about 14 years old when she gave birth to Jesus. At that time, this was a very common age for young women to be engaged and get married. So Jesus,the Son of God, was the son of a teenage mother. Joseph was probably slightly older. Joseph and Mary were a very ordinary couple. They would have been quite poor. Joseph was a carpenter. Both Joseph and Mary were descendants of King David. Nazareth, the town where they both lived, was a small hill town.
The angel Gabriel, who visited Mary, is God’s chief messenger and only appears to very important people in the Bible. The first words that Gabriel spoke to Mary were “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” These are very important words. ‘Highly favoured’ means that God’s holy grace was upon Mary and was a special blessing from God – something that would have never normally been said to a peasant girl like Mary! She would have been very scared by this and that is why Gabriel told her not to be afraid. The name Jesus was a very common name in Israel at that time. The name Jesus means ‘Saviour’ and has a very important meaning in the story. Mary would have been very surprised when the Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would be on her, because in the old Jewish stories, only the very important people had the Holy Spirit come into them. She might not have even believed that all this was going to truly happen, so she went to see her cousin Elizabeth, who Gabriel said was about to have a baby. She did this even before she told Joseph about Gabriel and Jesus.
During the last summer holidays, our Head of School has, once again, put pen to paper and wrote a play which we are all going to perform for our annual school celebration. This time we are off the ancient Imperial China where we are going to meet a young emperor who refuses to get married. He goes against the wishes of his mother and he declares that there is only one love for him: his riches and gold! As usual our school production will include dances, songs and the occasional hilarious bits as well! There will be young chinese dancers, courtiers and villains; the fairy godmother and pretty princesses and a joyful gran finale. All leads to a happy ending when the emperor realizes that being happy in life does not mean to be rich and powerful! There are things that are by far more important than that!
So please make sure to be with us on the 17th of December at 11.00 so that you can simply sit down, relax and watch us on stage: you will definetely not regret it!
The Dinja Waħda Newsletter for the month of December is out. Read more about the newly launched birdlife website. Some new and interesting activities are also being launched for more learning fun experiences for our learners. The newsletter focuses alos on a very positive aspect of submitting feedback at the end of the year online, encouraging participating schools to go digital and yes this too can make a difference …. we are saving our environment and our precious blue haven of a planet.