Author Topic: So what about Joseph?  (Read 7853 times)

Keith Falk

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #60 on: December 19, 2010, 07:30:15 PM »
The nature of a forum such as this is to engage in back and forth exchanges of ideas, not contemplation. How does one "peacefully contemplate" anything by making posts in an internet discussion forum?


I'd say that's Keith's point; this was a post for contemplating, not debating.

Yes.
Rev. Keith Falk, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #61 on: December 19, 2010, 08:18:52 PM »


So the fuzzball now accuses me of "pathological homophobia" eh? 

Actually, I don't think he did that at all. Let's review the difference between "implication" and "inference."
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #62 on: December 19, 2010, 08:20:25 PM »
On second thought, let's not. Let's return to contemplating Joseph.
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Charles_Austin

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #63 on: December 19, 2010, 09:22:57 PM »
Moderator Johnson is right. I did not call coachrev anything... except perhaps anonymous.

Weedon

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #64 on: December 19, 2010, 10:20:52 PM »
way too late to the discussion, but here're my thoughts from some years back...


He sort of lurks in the background, Joseph does.  We know that he’s there, but we tend to forget him.  It’s a role fathers are accustomed to at the time of child-birth, and one – truth to tell – that we’re rather comfortable with.  After all, the star of the show is the little baby, and if there’s a first-runner-up, it’s the mama.  The papa’s joy comes from just standing there in awe and staring at the miracle in front of him.

Of course, for Joseph, it was different.  The child wasn’t his.  He’d been hurt, of course, dreadfully hurt when he found out that Mary was pregnant.  You see, they were betrothed, not married.  But in Jewish society of that day, betrothal was so serious that it could be broken only by divorce.  And it sure seemed to Joseph that Mary had broken faith with him.

Joseph was a good man.  He was torn, as all good men are, over the horrible conflict between justice and pity.  His sense of justice wouldn’t let him even consider marrying her.  She was just not the sort of person he had been led to believe her to be.  She evidently didn’t hold God’s commands in the same high regard that he did, and what kind of a life could be built out of two people who lived by such different values.  And yet, in pity, he didn’t want to make a public spectacle out of her.  He wasn’t the least bit vindictive; he wouldn’t enjoy abandoning her to public shame.  He was just very sad.

And no doubt people were already talking, and given the normal behavior of human beings the obvious answer to Mary’s condition leapt to the mind.  Probably there was a good deal of speculation as to who the papa was.  Some held out for Joseph.  Others said:  “That old priss!  He wouldn’t touch her until after the ceremony.  Trust me, my friend, Mary just couldn’t wait.”

Many were the nights that Joseph lay awake and stared at the ceiling, wondering what to do.  Wondering what God’s will was for him in this situation.  Asking:  “Why me, God? Why have you let this happen to me?”  And then it happened.  One night after he had finally fallen into a fitful sleep, God answered.  You see, there was someone who saw Joseph’s pain and hurt and knew his struggle.  There was someone who saw the hurt and fear in Mary’s eyes as well.  And that someone in his own time and in his own way did something about it.

It was a dream Joseph had, but as real as could be.  The Angel of the Lord stood there, shining and glittering and somehow terrifying in his holiness, and spoke gentle, unbelievable words of comfort.  “Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a Son and you are to give him the name JESUS because he will save his people from their sins.”

And suddenly as the dream had started, it was over.  Joseph was wide awake again.  But now his eyes were filled with tears and his heart with peace.  “Why did I ever doubt her, God?  And why did I ever doubt you?”  Bet he got out of bed and made himself a pot of coffee or some such and waited impatiently for the light of dawn.

As soon as it was light, he ran out of the house and over to Mary’s parent’s home.  When she saw him, saw the look in his eyes, saw the smile on his face, she knew that he knew the truth.  At last.  Old Elizabeth had shared her secret joy, but no one else up to that point.  Now Joseph did.  Joseph understood – and that meant the world to Mary.  No doubt there were awkward attempts at an apology from Joseph, but Mary just brushed them all away.  None of that mattered anymore – now that Joseph knew the secret of what and who was growing in her womb.

“I see his plan now, Mary.  I am not to be this baby’s father, but his protector and provider.  The protector and provider of the Messiah, Mary!  The Promised One, the One whose name is JESUS – who saves his people from their sins.  The One promised by Isaiah as God with Us – the Virgin-Born.  Oh, Mary!  God is so good!  How could I have doubted?”

Now please note:  the sneers and the knowing looks in Nazareth did not cease.  If anything they increased when the people saw that Joseph was determined to stand by Mary.  And no doubt, half of the people said:  “See, I was right.  He is the father.”  And the other half said:  “See, I was right.  He doesn’t have the guts to throw her over even after what she did to him.”  But Joseph and Mary were beyond being bothered by such comments and looks.  They just looked at each other and smiled.  A marvelous secret!

Jesus was the name the angel gave.  “Because he will save his people from their sins.”  As Mary came nearer to term and the child bulged in her womb, Joseph would place his hand on her tummy and feel the baby kick, and say to himself:  “This is my Savior.  This is the one we have prayed for and hoped for all our lives.  He comes to set us free!”
Old Joseph didn’t live to see how that redemption would take place.  He’s last mentioned in the temple with Mary and Jesus when the lad was 12.  Sometime between then and Jesus’ baptism at the age of 30, he died.  He didn’t live to see the shame of the cross, when only Mary and her friends had the courage to stand by him.  He didn’t live to see the joy of the empty tomb when Jesus would begin spreading the joy of death’s defeat into all the world.  He probably never saw Jesus work a miracle, but that didn’t matter.
He still died full of faith and hope because he knew that in that child, learning to walk, learning to talk, in that child who hugged him and liked to rub his face in Joseph’s rough beard, in that child who ate at his table and looked so peaceful sleeping under his roof, in that child who played with abandon and prayed with glee, in that child God had come to be with us, to save us.  And so Joseph closed his eyes in peace and opened them in heaven’s light only to be embraced by his child, his Jesus.  While on earth, Joseph had cared and provided for the Child and now in heaven the Child of Mary would forever care and provide for him.

Joseph lurks in the background, true.  But how our Lord loved his earthly protector and provider!  You and I often know what Joseph felt like.  We’re background people, too, for the most part.  Maybe often overlooked and forgotten, just doing the tasks the Lord has given us to do.  That’s okay.  There’s one who doesn’t overlook or forget.  One who loves us.  One who is waiting to welcome us home.  The Child who was born of Mary, nurtured by Joseph; the Child who by his cross and resurrection has opened for all who trust Him – great and small alike – an eternal home.  Amen.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #65 on: December 20, 2010, 12:27:54 AM »
I suggested in my sermon that a better question to ask ourselves is: "What would Joseph do?" I find myself much more like Joseph than Jesus. He wants to do what is right, but sometimes is misdirected. He's afraid of what the neighbors might say. He wants to be compassionate to this pregnant woman, but discovers he's doing it the wrong way. When God confronts him with his wrong choices, he changes. Would that we were that repentant.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

revjagow

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #66 on: December 20, 2010, 10:26:02 AM »
In response to Rev. Weedon, I'd say it's never "too late" for contributions like that!

So, as long as we're sharing... I'm blushing a bit as I pulled up something I wrote the year my first child was born and I was contemplating fatherhood that Christmas.  It was a series of imaginary letters that Joseph wrote to give some of the nativity experiences from his perspective.  Since we have Jesus in the Temple in the lectionary soon (for those reading it Second Sunday of Christmas, series A), I'll share this paragraph:

After we left the city, Mary and I realized that Jesus was not with us.   I wanted to go stop and search, but Mary very piously reminded me that at twelve years of age, our son could well take care of Himself.  Besides, she said, He was probably with some other member of the family.  But, after a whole day’s travel He was no where to be found.  In a panic, Mary and I went all the way back to the city.  What we found there was simply astonishing!  Our search took us into the Temple where twelve year old Jesus had a group of rabbis enthralled as He debated the Scriptures with them.  Mary did not see that, however.  And, she probably forgot completely about her  virgin birth, the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, the strange star in the sky, the visit of the wise men, and the way that God had been talking to me in my dreams.  “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US!”  As her voice echoed off the Temple walls – all I could do is turn to the rabbis and shrug.  “YOUR FATHER AND I HAVE BEEN LOOKING EVERYWHERE!”  At this point, Jesus looked at her with what can only be the very definition of child-like innocence and truthfulness.  “Did you not know that I would be in my father’s house?”  He asked very sincerely.  And the words that were caught in my throat were, “But I’m…”  But, I didn’t say it – because I was starting to understand.  After twelve years… starting to understand.
Soli Deo Gloria!

mariemeyer

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #67 on: December 20, 2010, 10:27:46 AM »
Joseph is a remarkable role model for all men to whom the Lord has given a wife and children. He was their defender, their protector and their servant, performing his role humbly, fearing, loving and trusting in the God who had made good and certain promises to Him, even as He makes them to all men who are called to be husbands and fathers.

This morning I read  Paul McCain's comments in the context of the sermon preached yesterday by our our young assistant pastor.  My pastor concluded that the righteous said of Jospeh is the rightousness to which all Christians are called, one that is not inherent in their sexuality, but in their being recreated in the image of the Son Mary was to deliver.  Joseph could have "put Mary" away just as God can separate Himself from the harlots that each of us is. But the righeousness of God did not prevent the Son from joining himself to the men and women who are all His unfaithful unrighteous wife.  

As I ponder the part God allowed Mary and Jospeh to play in the Incarnation, I wonder if both are not models for men and for women.

Coach-Rev

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #68 on: December 20, 2010, 11:23:23 AM »


So the fuzzball now accuses me of "pathological homophobia" eh?

Actually, I don't think he did that at all. Let's review the difference between "implication" and "inference."
Moderator Johnson is right. I did not call coachrev anything... except perhaps anonymous.

I don't see a difference, aside from one being direct, and the other indirect.  One is standing in a room with a live grenade, while the other is opening the door to the room, pulling the pin, tossing it in, and then shutting the door again. 

I guess we will differ on this interpretation. 

Of course, I was asking who here, in this forum, was doing that, not what someone who was not on the ELCA clergy roster said 16 years ago. Some of us do not yank out decades-old declarations clearly indicating a pathological homophobia and if we did so, today's "traditionalists" would say: "Well! I don't believe that!" So let's keep the discussion current.

Some of us = Charles, and by Inference I'm the "other of us"
clearly indicating = directly referring to the "other of us" = me
pathological homophobia = what the "other of us" = me, are.  By direct inference and implication.

However, I will point out that I have not once reported any of this to the moderators, FWIW.

And regardless of events 16 years ago, he is currently on the roster of the ELCA, and his position has not changed from 16 years ago.  Again, FWIW.

John, an Unlikely Pastor

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #69 on: December 20, 2010, 01:24:44 PM »
It may be that the greater miracle in Matthew 1 is not the virginal conception, but that a man who was convinced he was right, had his mind changed.
You are quite right that there are two miracle stories that flow together here from two very different experiences of Mary's pregnancy.  No question what the angel told Joseph changed everything.
thanks for the insights
John
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Matt Staneck

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #70 on: December 21, 2010, 10:12:03 AM »
Matt Staneck, Pastor
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FatherWilliam57

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #71 on: December 21, 2010, 12:26:22 PM »
Nice article.  Two thumbs up.  Thanks for posting this.
The Rev. William B. Henry, Jr.
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Erma S. Wolf

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #72 on: December 21, 2010, 12:54:18 PM »
I had to work ahead on my sermon for the Sunday after Christmas, which this year gives us the second half of the story of the Wise Men.  We get the angel coming a second time to Joseph, warning him to take the child and Mary and flee to Egypt, for Herod is now about to attack.  I was struck, in a way I had not been before, by the contrast between the two men, Joseph and Herod.  The first is the descendent of David, the second sits on the throne of David:  and what a difference there is in how these two men act!  The pretender to the throne (Herod) acts out of his (justifiable) fear that he will be replaced by a true son of David, and moves against his own people in ordering the slaughter of the children.  The true descendent of David, however, responds to the word of the Lord faithfully and protects the mother and child as a real king would.  Joseph never sits on the throne of David, but he is a fulfillment of the Old Testament texts of how a true ruler over the flock of the Lord should act.  Herod, the bloody tyrant, only proves that he is no true shepherd of Israel, for all his show of power.

Matt Staneck

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #73 on: December 21, 2010, 07:47:26 PM »
I had to work ahead on my sermon for the Sunday after Christmas, which this year gives us the second half of the story of the Wise Men.  We get the angel coming a second time to Joseph, warning him to take the child and Mary and flee to Egypt, for Herod is now about to attack.  I was struck, in a way I had not been before, by the contrast between the two men, Joseph and Herod.  The first is the descendent of David, the second sits on the throne of David:  and what a difference there is in how these two men act!  The pretender to the throne (Herod) acts out of his (justifiable) fear that he will be replaced by a true son of David, and moves against his own people in ordering the slaughter of the children.  The true descendent of David, however, responds to the word of the Lord faithfully and protects the mother and child as a real king would.  Joseph never sits on the throne of David, but he is a fulfillment of the Old Testament texts of how a true ruler over the flock of the Lord should act.  Herod, the bloody tyrant, only proves that he is no true shepherd of Israel, for all his show of power.

What a great observation this is!

M. Staneck
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FatherWilliam57

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Re: So what about Joseph?
« Reply #74 on: December 22, 2010, 03:27:11 AM »
Love the analysis, Erma!  I have always felt that Joseph got short shrift as far as understanding his role in God's plan of salvation.  (I also love the fact that he shares the same name as another "dreamer" in the Old Testament.)

I keep telling my congregation to forget about "Hallmark" observances.  If they want to celebrate Christian mothers, do it on August 15th (not the second Sunday of May) and if they want to celebrate God-fearing fathers, do it on March 19th (not the third Sunday of June).  I also hate the way the three-year lectionary "slices and dices" the Nativity story for the First Sunday after Christmas.  I think I would prefer to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family instead and come up with a decent lectionary that completes the Nativity story in one fell swoop.  Jumping ahead to the Innocents before hearing of the Magi on Epiphany kind of messes with my head.  (Sorry, it's 3:30 AM and I'm probably rambling incoherently.  If anyone can make sense of that last sentence, please let me know.  ;))
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 03:29:23 AM by FatherWilliam57 »
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