5 March 2015 - clay

Hey, no pressure

joseph

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 1:20-21 (NRSV)

As a father, sometimes I feel a lot of pressure to make the right choices. Are my kids learning enough, are we spending enough time together, are there things that I’m doing that will ruin them?  Some days, it’s tough.

I know that my children aren’t required to think like I do, enjoy the activities that I do, or listen to the same music that I do. I want them to be able to think for themselves, to carve out their own unique niche in the world and be the person that God designed them to be.1 1. This list is not likely to include athlete or model because, well, genetics.

No matter how much pressure I might feel about parenthood, it’s nothing compare to what Joseph must have felt. Here he was, trying to do the right thing by his future wife and secretly end the betrothal. He was a stand up guy, and wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it. Then an angel of the Lord appeared. Right there he had to know he was in deep, probably over his head. I’m sure that his carpentry school didn’t teach him how to deal with heavenly beings.

The angel told him that he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the baby she was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Now this was God just piling on to the humble carpenter. Imagine the mental whiplash Joseph experienced. He’s minding his own business, thinking about what to do with his engaged future wife, probably working on a scrollshelf or a mannabox22. Because aren’t all beginning wood projects bookshelves and breadboxes? I just had to adjust for culture.

As if things weren’t already difficult enough to filter through his very human brain, Joseph then has the metaphorical piano dropped on his head. “Hey Joe, we’ve already picked out a name for your son. It’s Jesus. And he will be the savior of the world.” Right then, Joseph probably set in to a panic attack. We have to think real hard about whether to get our child the apple slices or the tiny orange with their Happy Meal. Joseph had to come to grips with the idea that he was going to be the father of the Son of God.

Add to that the stress of what people around him were going to think about this. Soon, Mary would begin to show and then people would question the character of both of them. They weren’t married yet. Unlike our culture, theirs was not particularly forgiving of pre-marital sex.

Somehow, Joseph pulled it together. Like most fathers, he did what he had to do for his son. He was there to protect him when they fled to Egypt, and he was frantically searching for him when Jesus stayed behind at the temple. He didn’t let the pressure get to him.

The thing is, the stakes are higher for us then they were for Joseph. Our children aren’t born as the incarnate Christ.33. And how much easier would that be? We have to nurture them, love them, and show them our faith by living our faith. We don’t have an angel of the Lord telling us what to name them, or what their future will be. We simply have to be there, and be available to them. We don’t have any idea how much longer we might have with them.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. 1. This list is not likely to include athlete or model because, well, genetics.
2. 2. Because aren’t all beginning wood projects bookshelves and breadboxes? I just had to adjust for culture.
3. 3. And how much easier would that be?

Culture / Life / Matthew

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