Monday, December 20, 2010

The Miracle of Joseph

We often forget what a wonderful man Joseph was. In yesterday's sermon, our pastor reminded us that Joseph could have ordered Mary stoned because she was pregnant by someone else. Instead, he had decided to send her away. She could have her baby and somehow make a life elsewhere, and he would deal with the humiliation of having a fiancee gone missing.

He spared her life. Even before God spoke to him in a dream, he spared her life. Most men would not.

And then, after God gave him instructions, he followed them. He and Mary built a life together. They had children. He continued to care for them all. It can't have been easy.

It never is.

The family values crowd rarely talks about how much a family demands of us. The sappy commercials this time of year never focus on the down side of family life, not to mention the possible darker sides: the arguments, the grinding times of poverty (which, if we're lucky, will pass), the sickness, the loss, the fear of the losses to come. We never think about how much of family life will circle around dealing with the failings of our bodies and the bodies of our loved ones. We rarely think about how we're committing to the whole extended family.

Joseph reminds us of the miracle of that commitment. God's plan may be different for us than what we intended. It reminds me a bit of the movie It's a Wonderful Life, which I just watched again the other night from start to finish, which I rarely do. Like George Bailey, like Joseph, we may have envisioned a future that's radically different from the life that swallows us up. But as the two very different stories demonstrate, good things, miraculous things--resurrection itself--can come from that different life path.

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