Joseph, being a righteous man…
As we understandably focus our attention on Mary and the baby Jesus as we approach the celebration of Christmas, Joseph can easily become a voiceless figure in the background.
To be sure, Joseph does get his own saint day on the church calendar – March 19th – and I can recall rich, delicious pastries available in the North End of Boston specific to Joseph (my favorite being one with pastry cream, dusted with powdered sugar and covered with cherry syrup).
However, I think Joseph’s example of righteousness belongs in our Advent thoughts as well. An engagement to be married was a deep moral commitment in first century Jewish life, and to break an engagement was a serious violation of honor and trustworthiness. It is difficult to imagine how Joseph dealt with the news that his fiancée was with child before the marriage vows were completed.
The Gospel of Matthew says this: “Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose [Mary] 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.” (Matthew 1:19-20)
At the core of Joseph’s response to the situation he faced, it seems to me, was compassion. He knew the “rules” and how they should be applied to protect his honor and his place in the community, but he also was open to the voices of the angels calling him to a deeper, more compassionate way of being “right” with God’s will.
As we again hear the beauty of the song of Mary and gather in spirit at the humble stable, I invite us to give thanks for the choices which Joseph made and for the compassion he had for Mary, even as we strive to be compassionate people in God’s Name in our own lives today
An Update on the Title III process
The Rev. Canon Bill Parnell, Canon to the Ordinary of our Diocese, met with the Vestry recently to provide an update on the ongoing Title III process. He reports that, “The Vestry anticipates receiving the report of the interview team before the end of the year. The Standing Committee, in its capacity as a council of advice to the Bishop will consider the matter at their meeting in early January, after which the Bishop will communicate with the Rector and Vestry regarding the outcome of the process.”
Please keep everyone involved in this time of discernment in your prayers.