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    Dec 02, 2018

    A Carpenter Named Joseph

    A Carpenter Named Joseph

    Passage: Matthew 13:54-56

    Speaker: Vivian McCarthy

    Series: Faithful

    Category: Advent

    Nothing about the story of the Birth of Jesus is “business as usual.”  Nothing about this birth was expected. 

    Isn’t he the carpenter’s son?  Can’t you imagine them saying it this way:  Isn’t he JUST the carpenter’s son?

    The people in Nazareth knew Joseph.  And they watched Jesus grow up.  So when Jesus came back as a young adult and tried to teach them, well…

    On Thanksgiving Day, our niece brought her best friend, Vankelia.  They are both about 22.  They are both very smart young women.  Vankelia is Liberian, with family both here and in Africa.  I watched her grow up since she and our niece have been friends for as long as I can remember. 

    She came with Laurel one Christmas when they were about 15 to help me and Erin bake Christmas cookies, and we turned her loose with a lemon wafer recipe.  She was supposed to quadruple the recipe – we make a LOT of cookies – and we gave her the ingredients, including a bunch of lemons that had to be zested and squeezed.  My kitchen smelled heavenly – but I digress.

    Erin and I were a little surprised when there were so few lemon wafers after they were baked.  We all took a taste, and they were FABULOUS.  But there were so few!  I don’t remember how we got there, but we eventually figured it out.  The cookies were extra lemony because Vankelia only doubled the ingredients for the dough while she quadrupled the lemon in the recipe.  They were lip-smacking good!

    On Thanksgiving Day, Vankelia began talking to me about her plans and dreams.  And I found myself getting a little bit defensive – which I hope to heaven she didn’t notice.  She was very self-assured.  She is very insightful.  And her hopes and dreams and calling are leading her to do some work that carries with it some edges that were uncomfortable for me – and probably would for many of us.  Was my discomfort due to her youth?  Our familiarity?  The subject matter?  All of the above?  Probably all of the above.

    What if the people of Nazareth were so uncomfortable that they dismissed Jesus and didn’t listen to him?  Did they eventually learn from him?  And, as we focus for the next few weeks on Joseph the Carpenter, did they learn from Joseph?  After all, they seem to have dismissed him, too!  A carpenter – what does HE know?

    Friends, nothing about the story of the Birth of Jesus is “business as usual.”  Nothing about this birth was expected. 

    Unless, of course, we remember that God chose carefully.  A girl willing to risk the shame of an unexpected pregnancy.  A man willing to go through with a marriage – and then raise a child not his own – a man whose parenting guided, shaped and nurtured the Son of God into the man God sent him to be.

    In our Advent study book, Adam Hamilton ponders how Joseph’s parenting may have shaped Jesus’ ministry:

    Though the Gospels provide very little direct information about Joseph, I believe we can learn a lot about him by looking at his son.  As I read the stories of Jesus, it appears to me that Joseph was intentional about teaching and modeling for Jesus who God is and what God’s will was for his life.

    When Jesus told the parable of the prodigal son – likening God to the patient and merciful father who took back his son even after the boy had demanded his inheritance in advance and then squandered everything on wild living – had Jesus seen this kind of love and forgiveness by Joseph in response to one or more of his brothers?

    When Jesus spoke about the importance of telling the truth, might he have been describing what he had learned by watching Joseph?

    When Jesus taught his disciples that true greatness is found in humble service, might he have been describing what he had seen in his carpenter father every single day?

    When Jesus said we’re not to look at a woman with lust in our hearts, was he repeating what he had learned from Joseph as a teen?  Doesn’t that sound like something a dad might tell his son when the son is thirteen or fourteen?

    When Jesus said we should do to others what we want them to do to us, is it possible he had grown up seeing this value embodied by his earthly dad, both in Joseph’s business and in his personal life?[1]

    A carpenter and a young adult.  God’s a wily one – choosing to use people that we just don’t expect to have anything to offer!

    [1] Adam Hamilton, Faithful: Christmas Through the Eyes of Joseph.  Pages 30-31.