This is the betrothal of Mary and Joseph.
I love learning about Jewish culture. For example, in the play Joseph makes a pledge to Mary and hands her a cup. Her father explains that if she drinks then they have a covenant. If she puts the drink away then all is forgotten.
Things I love. It is done in public where everyone has gathered...Mary and her family, and even (in the play anyway) all her aunts and cousins, and Joseph's family. No "special date", no secret rendevous, nothing loud or flashy, just a girl choosing a boy.
I also love that she gets to choose. I know, I know...all girls get to choose, but I believe that this is a principle of God. She chooses because once she has chosen she gives herself to him. He chooses to love and support her and lead their family. She chooses to give herself to what he wants and desires. It is more than just a choice to take a ring and to be married. It is a choice to become a part of someone else.
After the ceremony their is no grand party there is WORK to do! I wonder how often in our culture we think of marriage as just one long party from engagement to wedding day....where is the work? where is the preparation? no wonder after the wedding day so many young people become disenchanted, all the excitement is over, no longer the center of attention, now it's all housework and jobs and schooling and work.
Right away Mary's family starts planning for the things she will need to run a house, and Joseph actually starts planning for the house. These things were required before one got married during this period of history. You were not ready until you had a home and all the things needed to run it. That takes a lot of work, but also a lot of preparation. Thinking, and planning and preparing and working to get yourself as well as a home ready for a new family. I wonder if anyone would get married if our standards were so strict....It's probably a good thing that they are not. But ideally, ideally we would prepare our children to be ready. I have a good friend who does this. Christmas time and birthday time are not about toys and gifts, they are about preparing...about preparing a girl or a boy to become a woman and a man. She gets kitchen gadgets and he gets tools, she makes a quits, he works outside building things with dad. They plan to be ready when the marriage time comes in their lives....they are only 10 and 8. How many of us waste time and resources on things of little value when we could be teaching a valuable lesson about planning and preparing.
We all sing a song about Rules and Building
"There are rules for joining of two timbers
First you find the surest, truest ground
Then you sink the footing where it always will stand,
And nothing under heav'n can bring it down
There are rules for joining of two people;
First betrothal known throughout the land
Then a year of raising high a good Hebrew house,
Then wrapping up the hands in swaddling bands..
Build a house for a prophet
Filled with law and truth
A house for a handmaid
Obedient as Ruth
Build it firm as a mountain
A house of faith and prayer
For the children
Ever pure and fair."
Building a marriage is like building a house. I'm not going to go into too much detail since I wrote a post a few days ago about this very thing about houses and homes. But I will say that I think this song is a beautiful description of what I should be building, Law, Truth, Obedience, Faith, Prayer. It reminds me of the scripture in D&C 88..A house of faith, a house of fasting, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order a house of God. There are some specific things that the Lord would like me to make sure and teach in my home. Am I teaching them? It is always good to be reminded of where you are going, and where you've been. I want to build little prophets and obedient handmaids in my home. That looks a little different than building little sports hero's and princesses.
I am grateful for the preparation that Mary and Joseph would have put into their home and marraige to be worthy to raise the Son of God. I am grateful for their obedience and courage and thoughts. I hope to become more like them someday.