“Just when Joseph resolved to do this.” (Matthew 1:20)

Resolved. Firmly determined. Definite decision.
Joseph resolved not to subject Mary to public disgrace but dismiss her quietly.
They were betrothed, more than engaged;
they were espoused to one another.
Their marriage arranged, contracted between fathers.
And it was broken.

Joseph resolved to dismiss Mary quietly.

His culture allowed him only two choices:
     to disgrace, shame or even have Mary stoned,
          or to dismiss her quietly.

Joseph resolved.

This means he struggled to find an answer, to reach a firm decision.
Joseph resolved.
He played out his choices, back and forth.
     Disgracing, Shaming or Stoning?
     Dismissing her quietly?
Joseph resolved
     to dismiss Mary quietly.
And this indeed made him a kind and righteous man.

Just when Joseph resolved to dismiss Mary quietly
an angel, a voice not previously present in his discernment,

a power not formerly reckoned with,
an utterance, new and certain
broke over Joseph

And upset his resolve.

Be with Mary.
Name your firstborn son, Jesus.
And oh,
Don’t be afraid.

And that’s how Christmas
loosens our resolve
and presents holy surprise

and a fresh dream of God.