It’s nearly Christmas appparently and among the chaos and the lists which I shall immediately lose, there is the joy that is the Mariah Carey Christmas Album. You know Mariah Carey – she of the fantastic pipes and the propensity to dress like a woman of ill-repute. (Although she does have the bosoms for it to be fair) I love the Mariah Carey Christmas Album. As loud as possible. All perfectly possible at the moment – no neighbours.
I’m singing along to “Jesus – What a Wonderful Child” and having a very good stab at the high notes – if I say so myself.
The virgin Mary was His mother
And Joseph was His earthly father
I have sung stuff like this since I was a little girl. Mary gets called Jesus’ Mother but Joseph always gets called his “earthly” father or his guardian on earth – every time he is mentioned, his description as a father gets a qualification. Imagine being a walking, talking caveat. I am not for one moment questioning the Son/Father/Jesus/God dynamic – just thinking about Joseph – the man. So here are some thoughts about Joseph, presented in handy bullet points because everyone has a short span of attention at this time of year.
- When Joseph hears that Mary is pregnant, he does not demand the normal spurned husband rights which sometimes involved a big rock and a lady’s head. He ponders about how to do the right thing – how to help Mary – without shaming her. He was a man looking for a way to show grace rather than vengance. Sound familiar? Makes you wonder if God saw something in him no?
- Joseph was as good at listening to God as anyone else. When he is told to not divorce Mary he doesn’t. We are not told whether he did this, completely believing Mary and the angel or whether he did it with the occasional side eye at his beloved wondering whether it could possibly be true. Doesn’t matter really. He acted on what he was told to do and worried about the rest of the stuff later. Still counts as faith.
- He takes his young pregnant girl to his home to register for a census He obediently names the child Jesus as intructed in the dream. Still listening.
- Joseph faithfully does all the things a Jewish father and husband is supposed to do – taking his wife and the new child to the temple and obviously noting the shepherd carry on and Simon and Anna’s declaration over the child, followed a couple of years later by a visit from Wise Men from a completely different country and culture. And possibly ignoring a lot of nasty gossip, you know how people are.
- He sleeps again and is told to flee for his family’s life to Egypt of all places. He does so, probably feeling more confident, with all that he has seen, that it is best to do as instructed in these dreams. He leaves behind a killing spree by a King looking specifically for the child he is looking after.
- We hear very little else about him except when, years later, Jesus is left behind at the temple and we see that Mary and Joseph are frantic with worry – suggesting that he loved this boy as if he was his own.
This does not strike me as a man who who should be shoved to the back of the nativity set, just behind the third camel. This is quite a man. Trying to do the right thing but always keeping an ear out to see what God wanted. Ignoring the muttering and choosing to believe that God might have something special in mind. Being man enough to step back and let history take its course without demanding his place in it. Quite a chap I think.
This has been part of A Pause in Advent. Why not pop over to Tracing Rainbows to link to all the top writing on this subject there. I thank you.