Joseph - Man of God

This is the season of Christmas pageants with shepherds and sheep, wise men and gifts, Mary and baby Jesus, and... Joseph. I have often thought that Joseph gets the short end of the stick when it comes to pageants. Mary coos and beams and acknowledges all the visitors, shepherds adore, angels sing, wise men bring gifts, and those children cast as sheep and cows get to make animal noises. Even the donkey Mary rides on during their journey to Bethlehem gets more press than Joseph. He only gets to stand there.

In Christian art, Joseph, when he appears at all, is often depicted as a very old man -- apparently too old to be tempted by the lovely young Mary. Pictures of Joseph holding the Christ child are quite rare. The only non-baroque representation is Michelangelo's "Doni Tondo." A much later painting by Carl Muller, depicts a toddler-sized Jesus being cuddled by Joseph. But in the vast canvas of religious art, portrayals of Joseph and Jesus are scarce.

However, I believe there is so much we can learn from Joseph and how he handled the whole situation.

Joseph was perceptive. In the middle of this traumatic experience when his mind was most likely preoccupied with figuring his options, he was still able to perceive God's word to him in his dreams. Is it not interesting that the angel Gabriel appeared directly to Zechariah and Mary, but only came to Joseph in a dream. My experience is that God most often comes in the more subtle ways as he did with Joseph.

Joseph was trusting and had great faith. While Joseph was perceptive, he also had the faith to believe what he heard and trust that things would come to pass as promised. Think about it: the whole miracle of Christmas momentarily rested on Joseph's shoulders, awaiting his freely chosen decision to either accept or reject the stunning news of an impending Messiah - and the shocking way in which this salvation would enter the world.

Joseph was obedient. He perceived what God was saying, he trusted that God would give him the strength, and he did as God said: He took Mary as his wife and he named the child Jesus.

Because Joseph was all these things, he had a front row seat to the birth and life of the messiah and played a crucial role in the plan of God. He did so much more than stand quietly beside Mary.

We can never anticipate what God will ask of us, as individuals or as a church. However, if we can learn from and follow the example of Joseph, we will be witnesses and participants in the marvelous, rewarding, and unfolding plan of God.

My family and I wish each of you a very blessed and merry Christmas!

Your friend and pastor,

Pastor Lee