Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Advent: Joseph 1

This series is my own preparation for Advent, and it will look at the First Christmas and how various characters encountered the First Christmas. “What was Christmas like for….?” is the question we are asking. We will look at Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, and Simeon/Anna. Each will have five separate posts around this theme: their encounter with the revelation that Christmas was about to occur. These are not sermons, but advent preparation reflections, and I hope to engage any and all who will think along with me around this theme this Advent Season. Again, what was the first Christmas like? (And, of course, what are its implications for today?)
Christmas for Joseph meant that God’s plan encompassed Joseph before he knew it (Matt 1:18)
Protestants have neglected Mary because both the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic have overemphasized her; there are no good reasons to neglect Joseph. We may not know much about him – we really only have Matthew 1:18-25, but we ought to be impressed by this solid, staid, Jewish gentleman who lived by the Torah.
Joseph was by all means an “ordinary saint.” He was in the midst of plans to marry Mary while all around him heaven was swirling and God’s plans to liberate Israel and redeem the world were about to be set into action. Joseph was doing what he was supposed to be doing – waiting and planning and doing what good “ordinary saints” do – follow the Torah.
But totally unknown to Joseph, God was gathering forces for a new kind of birth that would lead many to a new birth. God wanted to work redemption in the world to reconcile humans to God and to others, and to do so God nearly broke the relationship of Joseph and Mary to accomplish reconciliation. To bring about his plan, God chose an ordinary virgin girl, named Mary, and decided to create a miracle in her.
What I am perhaps most impressed with in this short paragraph is that God was working to change Joseph’s life and Joseph was totally unaware both of what God had planned and with whom he was planning to do that great work.
Being in the right place (the place where God is at work) at the right time (when God is working) is what obedience is all about.

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Ted Gossard,

posted November 28, 2005 at 12:17 pm

Yes. A good reminder for us all in a society that looks down on the ordinary and praises those who keep “moving up/advancing” in life.
Joseph’s heart was surely prepared, though his station in life was humble. May my heart be prepared as well for whatever God wants to do through me and through us (those around me).

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posted November 28, 2005 at 12:51 pm

Thinking of Josheph in the first two chapters of Matthew, four words occur five times each: prophet(s), fulfilled, angel, and dream. I love Matthew: “kingdom” – 55 times. “Son of Man” – 32 times. The only Gospel with “church” in it (Matt. 18). And talk about fire… Matthew was an incredible screenwriter.
I like how the Angel of the Lord addressed Joseph in his first dream, “Joseph son of David…” Not, “Joseph son of Jacob, grandson of Matthan.” So was Joseph just 14 generations removed, or did he have some hidden connection with the throne of Israel? Especially in Matthew, they called Jesus “Son of David”…(9:27, 12:23, 15:22, 20:30-31, 21:9, 21:15, 22:42 where even the Pharissees chime in).

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Scot McKnight

posted November 28, 2005 at 12:57 pm

The fourteen generations thing …
First, I doubt Matt would have made a point of it and then botch it by getting only 13 in the last section.
Second, I think Matt counted both Joseph and Mary — giving fourteen.
Thus, both mother and father included because Mary’s “motherhood” distinguishes her.

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posted November 28, 2005 at 3:46 pm

How could we NOT be in the “right place at the time”?
God is working ALWAYS, EVERYWHERE.
Joseph and Mary were simply OPEN to the miracle that is going on around us every moment.
I guess you could say ‘Christmas is the acceptance of the miracle of God’s Love’!

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Mike Bird

posted November 28, 2005 at 5:12 pm

I think I might try the own-gift-under-the-tree-trick but change “fountain pen” for Wright’s new book “Paul” which for some crazy reason I didn’t pick up at SBL.

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Scot McKnight

posted November 28, 2005 at 5:13 pm

Without your accountant’s or wife’s approval, I grant you permission.

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posted November 28, 2005 at 10:10 pm

that’s a good point about Mary… thanks.

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Greg Corricello

posted December 2, 2005 at 6:38 pm

I loved the last series of Advent reflections on Zechariah and Elizabeth, and I have a feeling based on this first reflection on Joseph that I’ll feel the same about this one. Very thought-provoking and compelling. Keep up the good work!

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