Visions of Angels

Life Notes—December 6, 2012 

“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 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…”   Matthew 1:18-20a

Scripture does not tell us much about Joseph.  We know he was a carpenter who lived in Nazareth.  According to Matthew he was a descendent of King David and “a righteous man.”  We are told he was visited by an angel at least twice.  The first time was to announce that Mary’s pregnancy was of the Holy Spirit and would result in the long-anticipated Messiah.  The second came as a warning to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt, for Herod was seeking to kill this ‘newborn King.’  We know Joseph took Mary as his wife, despite her unconventional pregnancy.  And we know Joseph was a part of Jesus’ life at least until Jesus was twelve and found in the Temple, after wandering away from his parents.  Otherwise, Joseph is mostly absent from the Gospel stories.

Even though Joseph seems to be more of a bit-player in the life of Jesus, I imagine him to be a strong, quiet man, content to remain in the background of the strange saga his life had become.  It seems to me, based on the lack of evidence to the contrary, that he faithfully accepted his calling and simply fulfilled his role as best he was able.  Perhaps being visited by an angel is such an awe-inspiring event that Joseph dared not challenge the angel’s direction.  But the Bible is full of tales of others who defied such heavenly instruction.  Joseph is told to take Mary as his wife, accept the son he had no role in producing and raise him as his own.  And by all accounts, that is what he does.  Certainly, his fellow townsfolk must have talked mercilessly behind his back, for being pregnant outside of marriage was a crime worthy of being stoned.  He must have had to daily reconcile his faithfulness to God with the perception and derision of his neighbors.

And yet, most of us are called to be Josephs. Not Mary, not John the Baptist, not Jesus.  We function mostly behind the scenes, doing what we are called to do, offering our seemingly insignificant gifts wherever they seem to fit.  And God takes our combined contributions and weaves them into a Savior.  And nearly hidden in that sin-covering tapestry is a vital thread, without which the fabric would unravel; and that thread is us.

This will be the second Sunday of Advent and the sermon focus will be on Joseph. Tom preaches downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Mitch preaches at the west campus where worship is at 9 and 11.

Come home to church this Sunday.  Weave yourself into the body of Christ.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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