Life Notes—December 1, 2011
“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.’” Matthew 1:19-21
I have always imagined Joseph as a humble, hard-working man, quietly trying to build a good and righteous life for himself. I suspect he wanted to be a good citizen, a good husband and father, in keeping with the traditions of the time. He spent the time expected in theTempleand tried to apply what he heard to his daily life as best he could.
How do I know all this? I don’t. There is very little written about the earthly father of Jesus, but what is written paints a picture in my mind consistent with the above description. The fact that he finds his fiancé pregnant, not by him, but still intends to dismiss her quietly rather than make a public spectacle, indicates to me a quiet and humble man. The fact that he had the above encounter in a dream with an angel and obeyed seems to describe someone faithful, discerning and obedient. I doubt he aspired to raise divinity, but when called to do so he obeyed. Personally, I shudder to think where I might be if I acted on some of my dreams—probably behind bars somewhere…
But Joseph had a role to play, if one with few speaking parts. Most of the glory would go to the child and the mother, but someone needed to support the family. Someone had to shepherd the mother and child intoEgyptto flee Herod. Jesus would need a male figure to teach him a trade and model what it meant to be a man in first centuryJudea. But Joseph is seldom mentioned as part of the story of Christ, and never after Jesus was twelve. Was Joseph alive for the crucifixion? Alas, we are not told.
There are undoubtedly many unsung heroes, unnamed people who played various and important roles in the growth and development of Jesus—not unlike in our churches and communities. What gets done, gets done because faithful people see a need and step in to do what they are tasked and gifted to do. It’s always been that way. It always will be that way. Joseph receives three brief mentions for what was certainly a difficult, heart-rending and life-consuming role. Should we expect more for our faithful service?
This Sunday is the second of Advent and the theme is Peace. Tom will preach downtown, where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. Mitch will preach at the west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday. Maybe it’s time to find your role in the church.
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator