Thursday, December 26, 2013

A guy named Joe

I really like the things the Bible has to say this time of year.
Especially the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the books that record the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Since it's Christmastime, they're chocked full of the amazing narratives surrounding His birth, a happy occasion in any family.
There are a lot of heroes in these stories.
There's the Blessed Virgin Mary, the young maiden who answered God's call to bear a most special son in extremely unusual circumstances. There are the angels who came to earth and talked to Mary, the shepherds who were the first to hear the news from those angels about the glorious birth of a savior, and the Magi, the mysterious "kings" who followed a star to see a special baby, then slipped "home by another way" to hide his birth from a jealous ruler. There are the stories of that long donkey ride, the manger, the animals, the birth.
Great stories. Marvelous characters.
But my favorite is Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus.
I mean, really, here's a guy who's just minding his own business, looking forward to a long, happy life with the girl of his dreams. Suddenly, she tells him something that absolutely shocks and stuns him, and, I'm sure, breaks his heart.
She's going to have a baby.
Not his.
By rights and according to the laws and customs of the day, Joseph could have had her stoned to death for betraying him with another man.
But instead, the book of Matthew tells us that when "Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly."
But then it gets even better.
An angel came to Joseph while he was sleeping and told him not to be afraid to marry his beloved girl, that the baby was a child of the Holy Spirit, that they should name Him Jesus, and that He would be the savior of the world.
Whew. Big news. A lot to think about.
But here's the thing. The angel came to Joseph in a dream, right?
I once dreamed I dunked over Michael Jordan, and do you know what?
The NBA never called.
But here's this guy named Joe who calmly accepted it all and made the decisions that changed heaven and earth.
Out of faith.
Out of belief.
Out of love.
All without saying a word.
Or at least he never said one that's recorded in the Bible.
According to my friend and Pastor, Father John Burns, "He said nothing and did everything."
Not a bad way to be remembered.
Thanks Saint Joe.
Happy Christmas, everyone.

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