Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
This Sunday, we move closer to the Christmas Narratives.
What about Joseph? We don’t talk about him very much, do we?
A friend of mine says, “When setting up our nativity scenes sometimes we put Joseph by the sheep until the process of elimination has us realize that the fourth shepherd over there by the pine cone is actually the father of the baby. Such a thing would NEVER happen to Mary. She is always carefully and immediately placed kneeling by the side of the manger. There are practically entire religions designed around Mary, the mother of the Christ Child, but there are not too many confessional standards based on the character of Joseph.”
And so this week, I’m thinking about Joseph.
J. Barrie Shepherd, poet and preacher, writes:
“The hardest task
The most difficult role of all
That of just being there
And Joseph, dearest Joseph, stands for that.
Don’t you see?
It is important,
that he stand there by that manger,
as he does,
In all his silent misery
Of doubt concern and fear.
If Joseph were not there
There might be no place for us,
For those of us at least-
So many- who recognize and know-
That heartache, for our own,
Who share that helpless sense
Of lostness, of impotence
In our own lives, our families, our jobs
In our fearful threatened world this night.
Yes, in Joseph’s look of anguish
We find our place;
We discover that we too
Belong beside the manger:
This manger in which are met
God’s peace and all our wars and fears….
Let us be there,
Simply be there just as Joseph was,
With nothing we can do now,
Nothing we can bring-
It’s far too late for that-
Nothing even to be said
Except, ‘Behold- be blessed,
Be silent, be at peace.’
Joseph, son of David,
‘Do not fear,’ the angel said.
And Jim and Alice, Fred and Sue,
Bob and Tom and Jean and Betty too,
The word to you, to all of us
Here at the manger side,
The word is also, ‘do not fear.’
Our God, the Lord and Sovereign,
Maker of heaven and earth,
Time and eternity,
Of life and death and all that is
And shall be,Has joined us in this moment…,”
So. I’m thinking about Joseph this week. What’s on your mind?
And, if you are thinking ahead a bit, what are your plans for preaching on Christmas Eve?