Monday, January 7, 2019

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew


Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:  “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”  When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,  but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.  Matthew 1:18-25

Luke shines a bright, bold light on Mary...as well as Elizabeth (Mary's advanced in age cousin who is also pregnant with the child who will be called John the Baptizer) and Zechariah (Elizabeth's husband who is a priest)...but barely mentions Joseph in his narrative.

Matthew, however, devotes and describes two different scenes where Joseph is a key figure...we will study the other a little later.  Joseph here is stuck between a rock and a hard place.  In Jesus day to be engaged was to be married, there was a legality to it when the dowry had been exchanged.  There might have even been a covenanting ceremony at the engagement.  Joseph has the rest of his life planned and plotted, until Mary tells him she is pregnant. 

Maybe Joseph feels betrayed?
Maybe Joseph feels foolish?
Maybe Joseph feels anger?

When was the last time someone you cared about did something so unexpected?  My guess is that it wasn't tell you she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 

Emotions swirl and stir within Joseph...just as within us when we have difficult decisions where it seems like there is no. good. answer! 

That unanswerable question, "Why?"

Why this?
Why now?
Why me?

In the small spaces between the words of this story, I hear Joseph asking that age old question.

What difficult; rock-and-hard-place decision do you find yourself in during these early days of 2019? 

Can you relate to Joseph's condition?

Or maybe you feel more like Mary.  You are the one who said/did something that hurt someone else, but you felt like you had to do it.

Or maybe you feel like both!

And might we name and claim that God is with both Mary and Joseph?  God is moving both in the midst of the One who has the courage to be the God-bearer in the world AND the One who has the courage to call God, "Jesus".  God is moving both in the midst of the One who risked the hostile glare of others and gossip...as well as the One stood beside her.

So may that truth offer you more than a trace of God's grace in your Joseph like moments this day and this week.

Blessings ~~

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