notthefatherIn this week’s Revised common lectionary readings we get the story of Papa Joe. Joseph is the much overlooked person in the birth story of Christ. I often find myself wondering just how he must have felt about the whole thing. Matthew tells us that he is visited by an angel who tells him not to set Mary aside, but rather to continue his plans to marry her even though she is expecting a child that is not his.

To me this can read like an odd super early version of the Maury Povich Show. “Joseph, you are NOT the father.” (an unholy analogy, but what comes to mind)

How would Joseph react in our modern day to such an occurrence? He would have been well within his rights to toss Mary aside and move on to greener pastures. But he doesn’t. Joseph remains faithful to Mary even when he’s not 100% sure she’s been faithful to him.

Perhaps that’s the way to look at this passage, as Joseph showing Mary and Jesus the kind of love that God shows all of us. Even when we are not faithful, even when we are ashamed, even when the world condemns us, God will not abandon us. God comes alongside us and offeres to provide for us. God leans in close and says “I will be with you, always.”

What things are you pondering on this fourth Sunday of Advent?

How might you work the theme of love into your sermon?

Perhaps you will use one of the other texts, found here.

Prayers for you my fellow preachers, may you feel God walk alongside of you as you prepare to preach the word.

The Reverend Cardelia Howell-Diamond is the overwhelmed mother of three and solo pastor of a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in North Alabama. This Advent season she has been preaching on the theme of “The End of the World as We Know It” and feels that more and more everyday!

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6 thoughts on “RCL: Papa Joe

  1. i am working with Matthew’s birth story. i am planning to talk a bit about the ‘engagement/marriage ‘ customs and how the situation of Mary and Joseph fit with that. the passage seems distant, not warm and like Luke’s story. maybe the lack of detail and the writing style.
    also want to touch on the book-ending of Matthew with the idea of God being with us, always.

    the Magnificat is one of my favourite readings, and i didn’t include it last week, kept with Isaiah and Matthew, but i am very tempted to include it this week.


    1. Pearl, I am am using both of them this Sunday. The original idea was “dreams” but not so sure that will be the direction. I am toying with the idea, “They Both Said, YES!”


  2. It will be short as the children are telling the story in pagent and carol form tomorrow. I want o begin with “He could have had her stoned; instead Joseph chose love, Joseph chose Mary, Joseph decided to trust God’s promises,to be with us always and in everything, Joseph said “YES” ( I preached about Mary saying yes and how we need to be ready to say yes for the Magnificat reading) EVen BEFORE the angel told him to ‘fear not’ he had come down on the side of love. May we all be this open to where the Spirit breathes courage and grace and action into our hearts. Fear not…… say yes…. to love.


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