Monday, November 29, 2021

Joseph, God's Man of Honor

 We've made it just a few miles out of town. Mary has decided to get on the donkey for a bit.  Joseph and I are walking together leading the hesitant critter. Joseph is a man of few words and seems to be in a contemplative mood.  Perhaps he is in deep thought about what lays ahead? 

He has been unusually gentlemanly in comparison to his peers.  He is a number of years older than Mary, as is common in Nazareth. If most of his peers had a fiancé who turned up pregnant, there would be a whole lot of shouting and ugliness. I said to him, "How has it happened that you and Mary stayed together when most of your peers would have dumped their betrotheds at best or had them stoned at worst?"  He said, "It's a story that not many could believe.  In short, an angel came to me and told me her child is of the Holy Spirit and God wanted us to go on with our plans to marry."  He went on, "If God spoke to you, wouldn't you listen?"  

"How do you know it was God speaking?" I asked.

"Well, here's the thing.  What is the most forgiving, loving action possible in this situation?  Because the answer to that has the watermark of God all over it."  


So often we lose sleep & overwork ourselves hoping, praying for God to drop the "right answer" in our laps.  We'll consult all kinds of other people on what to do - therapists, clergy, friends, family, self-help books, and even TV and internet... But, what a simple measuring stick: "What is the most forgiving, loving action possible?"  That points pretty clearly at the right answer you're looking for.  That is not to say the logic in that answer will resonate with all those consultants or with society in general. God does not define nor hold the keys to our community standards.  God holds the keys to life in the Realm of God.  This is a life powered by forgiveness and undergirded by the certainty

"that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, neither heights nor depths -- nor anything else in all creation-- will be able to separate us from the love of God..." (Romans 8:38-39 IB*)

Joseph showed us this way.  Even though his peers probably thought he was an idiot for believing Mary's fantastic story, his honor and respect for the loving direction God acclaims first through the angel and then that he sees get lived out in his son's life guides his decisions and his life.  

He takes a back seat in the rest of the Jesus narratives.  But in doing that he also takes the humble path, not needing to have a central stage when it is God in his child making all the points about how we need to live. 

This society has lost its ability to be like Joseph - kind, forgiving, loving, gracious, humble and honorable. In many places even the church has lost this capacity.  Church and society can't get back that capacity unless brave people be like Joseph.  Joseph proved himself to be an honorable successful human being in God's eyes.  Now that you know how he did it, how about you?    

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