Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What about Joseph?

This week I'll be preaching on the story from Matthew 1:18-25. The lessons for the day can be found here.

Though many lectionary texts have common themes, and some seem to be randomly thrown together, it's reasonable to suspect that these particular lessons were intentionally put together for a reason. Isaiah's verses are referenced as being fulfilled in Matthew, and Paul's recollection of Jesus' life seems to affirm the story foretold by the angel. Essentially, both lessons point to the Gospel reading.

I wonder about the possible portrayal of Joseph as an advocate who does what is right regardless of the social stigmas of the day. There is a large emphasis on doing what is correct according to the law and what is acceptable according to society (today as well as in the Scripture reading). Most commentaries I've looked at have paid close attention to the laws and expectations of what a man was to do in ancient Israel if his betrothed was found to be pregnant. Not surprisingly, death by stoning and/or divorce are at the top of the list.

In our current culture of fear (fear of being hurt/attacked nationally, fear of losing our lifestyle, fear of 'the other' or unfamiliar, fear of disappointing those whose opinions we value, etc.), the angel says, "Do not be afraid!" I wonder what that means for us today.


  1. A gentlemen in the text study group I attend really likes to meditate upon the example of Joseph for hie piety.
    Anyway, recently he was making the point that there seems to be an archetypal portrayal of Joseph. The Joseph of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the Joseph in this story. I think there is something to that. My point, though, is this gentleman talked about a song he really likes that is about this story.
    Here is a link.
    I like the line:
    Joseph goes to Mary with his hat in his hand. Says forgive me, I thought you been with some other man. She says, well, what if I had been, but I wasn't anyway. And, guess what? I felt the baby kick today.

  2. Sorry for two posts in a row. I went on a foray to find that link and then I forgot the point the gentleman made that specific relates to your thought.

    Joseph is a pious man. You can see he obeys the law in that he intends to dismiss her, and even quietly. But, by the rules the relationship had to end. Anyway, when the angel comes and the consequence is that Joseph breaks the commandment to keep the commandment. It's really powerful stuff.

  3. That is really insightful...I don't think I would've thought of that on my own.

    When I look at it that way, it almost acts as a precedent for Jesus' ministry when Jesus heals on the Sabbath. Very thoughtful-- thanks for sharing.