Dec 17th: According to Joseph, with Rev. Dr. Steven Koski.
A Part of the Series:
According to Joseph with Rev. Dr. Steven Koski. Series: How Does a Weary World Rejoice? A Spacious Christianity, First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Oregon. Scripture: Mark 14:36, Romans 11:17-24, Luke 2:41-52, Luke 15:11-32.
Join us this Sunday as Rev. Dr. Steven Koski imagines Joseph reflecting back on the night Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, and their life together over the next 12 years, conveying Joseph’s love, care, and presence for Jesus as he grew, and the impact that Joseph would have had on Jesus.
During this season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I really enjoy setting aside the question of history to imaginatively into the mystery. You know, things don’t have to be factual to be true. We don’t really know what in fact happened. And what in faith happened around the birth of Jesus, and stepping into the story of the birth of Jesus with with curiosity and wonder, we might stumble across truths that give hope to our own story. So today, I invite us to be curious, to be curious and wonder about Joseph, who was engaged to marry. Joseph doesn’t speak one word in the story. I mean, I wanted to be Joseph in the Christmas pageant when I was when I was younger, because there were no lines to memorize. Yet the presence of Joseph is a strong thread holding the tapestry of the story together. Have you ever wondered what kind of presence Joseph was to Jesus had his birth and in his early years, you know, Jesus reaches for a metaphor to describe the nature of God’s heart, the depth of God’s love. He used the Aramaic word, Abba, which literally means, Papa was Jesus thinking of the presence of Joseph, when he described God as Abba was such tenderness and intimacy. I mean, Jesus told a story about a wayward son who, who longed to return home, and the son rehearsed his apology on the road, and hoping he would be forgiven and welcomed home. His father, who never stopped watching, waiting, hoping for his son to return. Psalm at a distance, ran out to greet him. And before his son could even utter one word of apology. His father wrapped his arms around him crying, welcome home. Now was Jesus thinking about Joseph, when he described the presence of OB as love in the story? Yes. As being forgiving, merciful, patient, expansive, affirming, presence, presence. I wonder about the presence of Joseph, and the impact his presence had in the life of Jesus. So I want to invite you to, to step into the story with curiosity and wonder using your imagination. I’m actually going to share dramatic monologue as Joseph, not I’m not going to dress in costume. But I want you to imagine that I am Joseph, with Jesus in the temple 12 years after his birth, reflecting back on that night. It was 12 years ago, that he was born. I remember that night, when his first cry pierced the darkness. Like it was yesterday. Mary and I were I was so tired, hungry, cold and scared. But as we held each other, held, this child has miracle that had just entered the world. I can’t explain it. But it was almost as if this child was holding us as if God as if God was holding us. Forgive me. I’m a simple man. I can’t explain such things. But but looking into the eyes of that child, as he laid there, and in that feeding trough was like looking into the very eyes of God. I can’t believe it’s been 12 years. You know, they told me to quietly dismiss Mary. That’s what I was encouraged to do. cast her aside. Do you know my Mary Noca. My first wife Melka died before we were able to have children. Milka was a good good woman. I was approached by Mary’s father who, who knew I was now alone. And he said he knew that I was a good and righteous man. He said he had no right to ask me. But wondered if I might take his youngest daughter Mary, as my wife. I had heard the rumors about Mary. The gossip around the well She was four months already. Only marriage could save her from stoning and deaths such was the law. So to my shop and Nazareth, Mary’s father brought her a carpenter. I am by trade. When I looked at Mary Her eyes were cast down but her face so young so radiance was a sweet breath of heaven. You know, there was this this strength about Mary that that seemed to come from some other place. I’m a man of few words. I I did not know what to say to Mary. She sat and watched as I worked with with the wood. I finally her words, and tears burst from her. It’s God’s child, I carry you. You must believe me. I tell you. It’s true. It’s a miracle. are dark eyes were fierce. De determined. I didn’t want to hurt her. I spoke slow. I’m a carpenter. I live by my hands. Who am I to judge? What do I know of miracles? All night I wrestled with strange fears. When I slept i drempt. Mary was an olive tree. Scripture tells us that that faithful servants of God were compared to olive trees. I can’t really tell you why. But I was no longer afraid. I knew I was to take Mary to be my wife. Mary filled my empty house. She sprouted and sang her body’s news. See, Joseph how, how I grow Listen, Joseph, a beating heart. Feel Joseph a boy’s foot. I teased her Mary How do you know it’s a boy? And she said confidently. I know I just know. In her ninth month, Caesar Augustus called a census. It was not the time to be up and moving. It was the time to be still in stay. It was the time for women to gather around Mary. But what could I do? I was born to the house of David to Bethlehem the town of David. We had to return to be counted 75 miles to travel with Mary about to bear a child. I didn’t know how we would make the journey. But it was a journey that we had to make. The good donkey bore his burden. Well, you know Mary, Mary didn’t complain once. The journey so it’s felt like like weeks. Hour after hour on that dusty road stopping now and again for cheese and dry bread. Mary’s pains began the last hours of our journey. If when we arrived in Bethlehem we were in dire need of a room. I knocked on the great door of the inn and the innkeeper looked at us and said there is no room. Not even a corner. You tried to close the door, but I pushed I pushed it back open pleading. Mary cried out in pain. The innkeepers wife swept in from the kitchen a baby on her hip. She took one look at us and told us for father’s stable out the back. It would be quiet and clean. I begged her please come and help. She promised to try. The stable smelled of sweet grasses. The animals moan nervously as I cleared a stall. There was a major of feeding trough that gleamed with the saliva of the oxen that had clearly just eaten. Mary’s eyes turned inward as the pain call. I kept thinking where is the innkeepers wife? I paced restless as the animals when would the innkeepers wife come? Mary Mary needed someone? And then there was this great groan Joseph Joseph. I ran out into the night to cry for help. But there was no one. Joseph Mary cried What could I do? I went to Mary side. She was awash with sweat. She grabbed me around my neck. I thought I’m a man. I am a man that this this is not my place. Hold me. Hold me. She cried, pulling herself up burying her face in my shoulder. So I did. I held her. She was an olive tree. So strong, so beautiful. The new life came pressing forth wet and tidy. His cry pierced the night air. Mary put him to her breast and paid me to cut his cord. It was dark, and dirty in that stable, and it smelled. Yet truth be told, I have never seen or experienced anything so holy and beautiful in my life. A miracle. Mary and I held each other. Honestly, we cried together. But they weren’t tears of sadness. We held this child. And we were cold and hungry and scared. But I tell you again. It was as if this child was holding us as if as if God was holding us. And we knew that all would be well. Then there were footsteps outside the state. I rose thinking it must be the innkeepers way. Instead outside. I found shepherds bedraggled wrapped in layers of torn robes that one of the shepherds stepped forward he looked gone with hunger but but his eyes his eyes were wide with wonder. As if he’d seen a miracle himself and was left speechless his eye. His voice shook as he spoke. We mean you no harm. Do you believe in miracles? He asked. I surprised myself laughing. I do now. And he continued. We were sent by God by angels. This released all of the shepherds excitingly spilling out Angel angels. Yes, from the sky like stars blazing. We heard voices like music, but not like any music we’d ever heard before. And then the elders, the elders, Shepherd held up his staff. And they all got quiet. And he was bent with age and, and hardship. And the voice of this old shepherd shook as he spoke. To us, to us, to us they came. At first I thought death had come to free me from this body of pain. But I could see that the other saw what I saw. And this old shepherd said, what did the angels want with us? We who matter not we who are unclean? We were poor and forsaken. We who are no one? Why us? We were told to come here. We were told the Savior might be found here. Just then, memory rushed to my mind and heart. And I could see and hear Mary long months ago with with fierce eyes and and this unquestionable knowing it is God’s child I carry. I remember feeling of fire rise up my spine with the shepherds words of a savior found here. My age melted. I felt like a man of 20 I knew all of a sudden I knew I didn’t know what it all meant. But I knew same as Mary. Come. Come I say Add to these faithful shepherds, calm into the stable calm. You will be our first guests. The first to behold, which is God’s child while our son, Jesus, Jesus is 12 now, here he is running through the temple. You asked me if he is the savior that everyone was expecting? How can I know? I’m a simple man, a carpenter, a man of few words. But I must tell you, there are times when he looks at me. When his eyes are deep and determined, fear says his mother’s. And there are times when I look into his eyes. And it is like looking into the very heart of God. There are times when I look into his eyes, and time stops. And it’s as if I’m back in that state, surrounded by those shippers, with everything awake and alive and, and fragrant with love. And there I am, again, holding the job. But somehow knowing in a way I can’t possibly understand or explain. The child is holding me holding all of us I love this boy. I love this book. I don’t really understand how. But I know nothing will ever be the same in this world. Because of it. As for me, I’m just going to do the best I can. To be there for it to be his papa. I really wonder about the presence of Joseph. And the impact his presence, the impact his love had in the life of Jesus. You know, I wonder about my own presence in this weary world. I mean, how would you describe how you are present to others? Maybe the best gift we can give others this Christmas. It is the gift of greatest worth the gift of our presence. In return we just might receive the gift of joy in a weary world. May it be so