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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mary & Joseph by Robert Marcum

Since I haven’t done much in the way of decorating or gift-giving or all the other stuff most people do to get in the Christmas spirit, I thought it was about time. So, I picked up a book that had been on my list for a while and had a beautiful few days really getting myself in the mood for the Christmas season.

Mary & Joseph by Robert Marcum is a beautiful retelling of the classic scripture story of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. But it also goes a bit further and explores Christ’s childhood and beyond. It was a very interesting read.

Although I thought Mr. Marcum became a little wordy at some points, it was certainly allowable. His descriptions of the rituals and meanings of the Law of Moses often felt too lengthy and pulled me a little out of the story. However, they were not so overdone to lose me as a reader entirely. It was interesting information for the student in me. I think I also would have preferred the chapter notations that offered even further explanations to be given all together at the end of the book rather than following the actual chapters. That was a little distracting to me as well. It wasn’t that I didn’t want the information, I did, but I didn’t want to step out of the story to get it.

What I loved most about this novel is the depth that Robert Marcum put into the characters. While I can not say if his portrayal of Mary is accurate to whom she really was as a person, I totally adored her as a character in the book: not just as the mother of Jesus, but as a woman I would love to have called friend. He didn’t just retell the scriptures or immerse the reader in the culture and history. Mr. Marcum brought the people to life on the page. It made for a great learning experience and it was nicely uplifting.

Though it was a moving book, both for the spirit of its message and the fact that it was well written, my favorite portion of the book actually came very early. It seemed to speak very clearly of the life and mission of the Savior, both at the time of his mortal life and now as I think about my own life.

Before Joseph even learns of the impending birth, he is discussing the promises of the Messiah with a friend and has this to say.

“I do not question the teachings of the rabbis. Our Messiah will come to rule and reign, but he will come to die for us as well. He must, because if he does not purify Israel with his blood, our momentary freedom from Herod will be buried with us in the grave.”

“But how can he do both?” Matthias asked with some frustration.

“I don’t know how he will do it, Matthias, I only know that he will do it. My fear is that when he does, we will not be ready for him. We will be the ones to afflict him, not the Romans or the Herods. We will refuse him because he does not do it as we supposed he should . . .”

I know there are times in my own life that I definitely feel this way. There are things I want and need, which I am desperately waiting on the Lord for. I wonder sometimes if I’m confusing the how and why with the faith I should have. Am I not noticing what the Lord is trying to do for me, am I rejecting his blessings because they do not seem to come in the way I think they should? How many times has Jesus slipped into my life and I have missed an opportunity because I did not recognize Him? Probably more than I would care to admit.

It was a good reminder at this season and gave me some food for thought as I started to prepare my own celebrations. If you’re looking for the same type of reminder you won’t regret the time spent with Mary & Joseph this Christmas season.

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