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Posted by myoikos in Boldness, Christian LIving, Disicpleship, Extravagant Generosity, Generosity, Intentional Spiritual Growth, Leadership, Passionate Worship, Radical Hospitality, Relationship, Risk Taking Mission and Service, Sacrifice, Service, Spiritual Growth, Stewardship, Trust, Witness on January 24, 2015
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. [NRSV]
Licensed to Catch
To be authorized to fish on state waters and waters that lead to state waters you must have a license to fish. It is a piece of paper with slopping dot matrix ink that is barely legible that cost just a few dollars for a whole year of fun and recreation, but try to sneak out without one and you will wish you had the permit. That license helps keep lakes and rivers stocked, rangers on watch and some efforts to protect waters for future fishing. It seems to me that it sounds much more impressive to call one’s permit a license to fish, rather than a stocking fee or a wildlife protection fee or a ranger administrative fee. Now I complain every time they increase the rate, but its still one of the best values our state provides.
With a license to fish it sounds like your are a professional catcher of fish, a regular James Bond in the wilderness. Licensed, licensed to fish. And yet that little piece of paper is your letter of authorization to attempt to catch a fish.
Unless you use your bare hands or a catchers mitt, I suggest that the whole endeavor is misnamed. Catching fish is the rarity in my experience. Practicing is the art of hoping and trying to catch. I have cast my line MANY more times than I have ever caught a fish.
And when I have successfully retrieved a fish from his watery home, I generally use every method I have to capture the little creature. And in my experience, my catch is a small creature; one I probably should use my bare hands to ‘catch’ rather than a load of specialized gear, bait and practice.
To be successful at fishing might have nothing to do with catching anything, except a nap in the great outdoors.
To be successful at fishing might be in helping someone catch what you have little or no success achieving yourself.
To be successful at fishing I know that the cost to procure a fish is not measured by the total investment, rather in the most recent success story. (Boat, poles, line, lures, trailers, flotation devices, motors, umbrella, wetsuit, waders, various must-have pieces of tackle, just to get started.) The cost of a ‘catch’ is the most recent worm and and the gas to transport you to the best spot.
A Failure at Fishing
You might think you have failed a fishing if you came home with no fish, but learning WHY you came home empty handed might be the successful lesson.
Coming home with a boat load of fish actually means more work of cleaning and cooking your catch which might be the last thing you want to do after three hours of driving, unloading and loading a boat, working on a broken boat, waking a mile back to go to the bathroom because your little helper doesn’t want to go in the woods, enduring some mud and rain, going through the first aid kit from miscellaneous hook injuries and only finding the little ones that need to be returned to grow bigger.
Luxury of Catch and Release
It is such a mixed message to take a child fishing when it’s catch-and-release season. First all the hype about “catching” fish and bringing it home to eat for dinner is the stuff that beginning fisher-folk legends are founded. You finally catch one, beginner’s luck you find the biggest one of the whole fishing parting and you have to throw it back. I wanted to eat it and mount it for all posterity, not through it back!
But there is actually a great level of maturity, delayed-gratification, or at least perspective when you can use all at your disposal to hook and retrieve your catch and not have to keep it
- because that is not the only meal your family might have is at the end of your line.
- because you don’t need to show anyone your catch,
- because you have learned to enjoy to sport of fishing
- because you want to leave fish for those who need the meal they provide
- because you don’t want to clean them
- because you found your enjoyment in the journey rather than the trophy
“Catching” is not the high-water-point of fishing!
Sharing fishing with someone else is the joy of fishing.
- You need no license to share the story
- You need no experience, success nor failure, to share the fun
- You don’t have to know what your doing and you may be the most practiced professional
Sharing the adventure of catching is heart.
Jesus goes a long way to share an INVITATION to share the ADVENTURE of FISHING
Jesus never promised that we would catch a single person
Jesus invites us to go on an adventure bigger than what we could catch if we tried, practiced,
Jesus extends INVITATION rather than LICENSES
Jesus calls us to use the skill and talents we know and have and INVITES us to share them with the work of the Kingdom.
Jesus continues to call disciples
Look to the persons on either side:
- Remind them “You are a disciples”
- Remind them “You are a fisher, not a catcher”
- Remind them “You don’t have to know what you are doing, just follow Jesus”
- Remind them “Lead with what you know”
- Remind them of the tough part: “Sometimes following Jesus is leaving other things behind”
Jesus Calls Disciples who make new Disciples, who fish for more disciples…
The ADVENTURE is ours,
we never graduate,
we never retire,
we may have weary, uncertain times, but
there is always more fishing to be done. So keep it up
Let’s go fishing
- It’s too cold
- It’s too wet
- I don’t have a license
- I don’t know where to go
- I don’t have the right equipment
- I don’t know how
- I’m tired of fishing
- I don’t like fish
- I want someone to fish for me, I like the restaurant/grocery story method.
So why are we here as church, if we are not about the one thing Jesus asked disciples…
I’m up for the ADVENTURE!
I have a story to SHARE!
- I don’t know how to fish, but I know who does!
- I don’t have license, but I have forgiveness and love!
- I might have skills and equipment, God wants what we bring! God fulfills what we leave behind.
- I might get tired, God plans for rest.
- I might not like the people God sends me to, but I know God loves us all
- If I don’t follow, what will I miss and who will miss God….
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSV]
1. Jesus told Philip who told Nathanael who told Philip about Jesus.
Discipleship is process of networking.
The invitation is “Follow Me”. Go where I am going.
We are not called to tell people where to go nor what to do. We don’t have to have the answers, we just take them where we are going and growing.
Philip didn’t know it all, but he knew enough.
In knowing Jesus Christ, we know enough to lead us to a community faith, into small groups of study and prayer and Christian fellowship
Our mission is to invite others to follow. Come WITH me and we will find the Lord together.
Goal of fifty new members. Will you join me in finding one person who will follow you to church. Out of the 100-150 of us here, make it your personal mission to bring ONE person this year.
Philip Brings Nathanel, doubting and questioning and complaining, Nathaniel follows and is found by Jesus. Philip on askes Nat to follow, to come with me.
2. How could anything Good come out of the little town of Nazareth?
Nazareth: population 100-150, not included in the Talmud/OT as a city.
Rock Spring: population 4,500 in 2012. Villanow at 1900. Plainville 375. The smallest incorporated village in Georgia is my home town, Garfield with a population of 202 souls.
- Steve Wozniack was an electronics hacker, and he and his long time friend Steve Jobs had this idea to create a personal computer. In 1976, the two approached a local electronics store to see if they would be interested in buying a personal computer that Wozniack had built. Their first order was for 50 “Apple” computers.
- In 1971, three academics each invested $1350 of their own money into the first Starbucks located in downtown Seattle. English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker opened the store called Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice
- In 1978, twenty-five year old college dropout John Mackey and twenty-one year old Rene Lawson Hardy, saved and borrowed money from family and friends to open the doors of a small natural foods store in Austin, Texas. Within a year of opening the store, the couple was evicted from their home for using their apartment storage for the store. Homeless and with no place to go they decided to save costs by moving and living at their store full time. Since their store “Saferway” was zoned for commercial use only, there was no shower stall. According to the company’s website, the two instead bathed in the Hobart dishwasher, which had an attached water hose.
- In the spring of 1891, the 29-year-old William Wrigley Jr. moved from Philadelphia to Chicago with only $32 to his name. Soon after arriving in Chicago, Wrigley began selling soap. As an incentive to the customers, if they purchased his soap, he would give them a free can of baking powder. Soon baking powder proved to be more popular than the soap he was selling, so he switched his business. A year later, in 1892, Wrigley used chewing gum as an incentive for buying his baking powder. Again, chewing gum proved to be more popular than baking powder, and so he switched business again. The first brand of chewing gum Wrigley produced was Juicy Fruit in 1893.
What good can come from RSUMC? Look at the (bulletin). Years ago folks would have said nothing but look we have living witnesses.
What good can come from sharing Christ with folks with whom we work, school, live, play, shop and travel? Nothing in we don’t invite them to follow.
The greatness is not in the size of the person nor the size of the church. Greatness is found in the responding to the invitation to find Christ
Examples of greatness coming out of small beginning
3. Trust the witness of Philip as if Jesus told you first hand.
Trust that you might not be able to reach everyone, but there is someone who will follow you, someone who will journey with you.
We might want it to be someone we know, a family member or someone we conveniently see each week or day.
I keep asking and inviting until i find one who will follow with me.
When the chapel was first built on this location, did the members see the need for an education building, or two, or a preschool, of the spring… who can imagine what ministries will call for what facilities 50 to 100 years from now. But the congregation we will be is shaped by the faithful willingness of those who have paved and reached, taught and sung, praised and raised in times past, stand as a witness for us to continue to extend the invitation. Come, follow me.
The was once the slogan of the United Methodist Church, we moved to Open Door, Open Minds, Open Hearts, to Rethink Church to now the watch word is.. don’t ask, don’t tell.
Seriously, we are not limited by a slogan, our mission is follow Christ and to invite others to join our faith journey.
So why are you sitting here, when there are those still out there.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [NRSV]
Are you blessed? Look at the blessing side of these equations:
- Citizenship in Heaven
- Comforted here and now.
- Inheritors of the earth
- Filled with Satisfaction
- Swimming in Mercy
- Able to see God’s presence
- Known to be God’s child
- Have a place in heaven
- Heavenly Reward Waiting
Character Traits of the faithful
- Poor in spirit, Mourning, Meek
- Righteousness Seekers, Mercy, Seekers of God’s heart
- Makers of peace; Teased, Taunted, Tested and Tormented for doing what is Godly.
Jesus begins his teaching ministry to the crowds with instructions that define the measurable, witness-able, tangible descriptors of those who ‘get it’, those who would be followers, disciples, Christians.
Look Around you today
Are you surrounding by the blessed or cursed? Honestly we are some of both, some of the time. This is why we continually repent, pray for forgiveness, and seek to live a new the new life we celebrate in Holy Communion.
We come to the table because we have turned the other way.
Jesus begins be giving us a measuring stick of identify and path toward citizenship.
Forgive me, for I have sinned.
- Forgive me, for I have acted like I knew better than God and other Godly saints.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten that you gave your son for my life. I forgot what that feels like.
- Forgive me, for I have stopped growing my spiritual relationship.
- Forgive me, for I have taken your grace, but not shown it to others.
- Forgive me, for I have not had pure thoughts, motives, actions and words.
- Forgive me, for I have not tried to make peace and even stirred up trouble myself.
- Forgive me, for I have persecuted others because they were different.
- Forgive me, for I have said and done all kinds of evil that does not reflect your presence in my heart and life.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten your Joy and misplaced your Gladness and Love.
Jesus words start as descriptors for Disciples and become daggers of conviction when we have not stayed on the path of Blessing.
An Opposing View
- Cursed are those who are full-of-themselves
- Cursed are those who stoic, selfish, and prideful,
- Cursed are those who know better than the rest of us
- Cursed are those who know better than God
- Cursed are those who judge with a log in their own eye
- Cursed are those who see only their wants and vision
- Cursed are those who to quiet to stop injustice or too loud in self-preservation
- Cursed are those who to sacred to be bold for God
The attitudes of Matthew 5.1-12 are the called such as they begin in our hearts and minds and then affect our actions and environment.
If our task is to make disciples of others for the transformation of the world, it begins by ‘checking’ our attitude to see if our heart and minds are God before we move to words and deeds.
Have someone ask you these questions this week and answer them honestly:
- Am I always right?
- Where does pride blind me and hinder others?
- Who knows best how to live in relationship with others?
- Am I willing to change what is broken in my life?
- Am I willing to see and feel how others feel and see life? And me?
- Will I speak bolding for God today? Each day?
- What scares me? Why would I be afraid if God is captain of our team?
What’s at Stake? EVERYTHING
- Being Blessed or Curse.
- Being included or outside.
- Saved or Damned.
- Loved or hated
- Remembered or forgotten
- God’s or my Own.
What is God doing about it?
- Has given us Christ to follow
- Has given us Christ for our sin
- Has given us Christ for living
- Has given us The Spirit for power and guidance
- Has given us the Church for fellowship and encouragement
- Has given us Word to study, learn, grow and share
- Has given us Music to tell and share
- Has given us ministry to share and reach
- Has given us resources to build and invest
The question, Our Question:
“What am I doing about my attitude and my actions as child of God?”
Come to the Table and start fresh in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Come to the table and be filled, anew.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”
In the verse just proir this text, the disciples are warned by Jesus that failure and attack are certainties, even among the faithful.
Take the easier way? Give us some faith.
It does nor work that way.
How does it work.
Follow and find out.
Serve and find out.
Trust and you will know.
Support one another and you will learn
My grumpy grandfather use to tell us that he would not take us swimming until we learned to swim by ourselves. So when we learned to swim without help, he said, we didn’t need him because we didn’t need him.
That is not Jesus’ advice. Jesus taught, being a disciples, while it is not easy and everyone is going to fail, except those who never try. They are already washed out.
The text today, contains the mini parable of the mustard seed. It is a lesson about how faith that appears to be small and insignificant becomes the foundation that leads to more faith.
You don’t get it all at once. It is like wisdom, it comes when we learn from our practice succeeding and failing.
A servant’s job is to serve, not to be served.
A disciple follows
A disciple even fails, but learns to encourage and be an encourager.
To ask: Increase our faith
Might sound like a request to
Give us a short cut
Give us a boost
Give us experience
Give us a head start
Give us an extra portion for the road..
Jesus replies, if your want faith-
Share the faith and journey with others
It’s not hand out nor a hand up… it is trust.
Discipleship is a practice, lets get to work
Doctors and Attorney “practice” their vocations,
When it comes to life and death or life or probation.. we want more than someone who is practicing… we want someone who will win, lead and save.
The disciples ask the same: Increase our faith, we don’t want to take any chances nor suffer, nor risk, nor fail…
Jesus gives the tough love: Too bad, we are jumping in the deep end.. are you coming in?
25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. [NRSV]
The Cost of Discipleship: Hate your family and carry your cross. How many of you want to sign up?
- The Cost of Discipleship: A building project that needs to be completed
- The Cost of Discipleship: A Battle as the underdog, who had the options for seeking peace.
- The Cost of Discipleship: Give away all your possessions. Who is left to follow?
Why so strict and exclusive?
Disciples redefined: Family comes second to Jesus. Still a hard saying but think of the covenant faith in the context of Jesus’s day: In his context: People would say, we are part of Aarons’ family, we are covered, we have connections.
Jesus redefines family as those who love God as our core family rather than automatically our biological family. (Be clear: I’m not saying that every thing under the umbrella of church should come first, but our relationship to God supersedes all others.
If that is not hard enough, Jesus redefines our self-worth. God does not measure us with a profit and loss statement. It is not about our wealth or debt. It is not about our good works or our sins.
Jesus calls into question first the relationships and then the things that we confuse our: 1 confidence and trust, 2 our value and worth, and 3 who’s work drives our lives.
Jesus speaks of carrying ‘the’ cross. The cross is the sign of ultimate self-less gift of placing all else down and picking up the very thing God calls us to do.
Often we define my cross is different from your cross. The catch is that the cross is neither mine nor your cross. It is God’s work that we carry.
- Have you ever wondered if we took these words literally that the church would not be struggling for members but would the greatest force for good?
- Have you ever wondered if we took these radical and extreme forces of guiding our lives that we would be free from so many rules, fears and limitations?
- Have you ever wondered if we took Jesus at his word in these basic actions, that we would see the same powers, healing, transformations, and life that Jesus shows?
We are quick to water them down. We excuse each other trying to make it easier on each other.
The two mini parables Jesus tells in the context of discipleship are about the process of building and the gift of discernment about choosing our battles.
These are the HOW TO part of this disciples lesson.
If the requirements are outrageous, so should be the ways to faithfully follow
First, as a building project, our life as a disciple is built over time. It is not immediate. Even the Apostle Paul with is conversion on the Damascus road, is transformed from passionate life of rule following, through a radical blindness, to see that the rest of his life was God and not his own. The progressions of faith in his letters give witness to the depth of faith that builds over time. The letter to the church at Thessaloniki addresses problems and disputes. The book of Romans his latest letter is thick with faithful thought and practice.
Second, discipleship is learning the wisdom to choose our battles. There is more than one way to show our faithfulness. We need to be cautious when were here there are four simple truths or seven habits or three priorities that sum of our lives.
We may have core values, but how we use those basic beliefs shapes us in 360 degrees.
The So What? Bottom line
Jesus makes it clear:
Discipleship is not easy, but it is worth seething through to the end.
Discipleship is about constant choices about our relationships, possessions and spiritual compass.
The challenge is for the church, filled with disciples to transform the world for Christ.
How we do it is not easy, but it is worth seeing it through
It calls for constant choices about our relationship, possession and spiritual compass.
Invitation to read “Remember the Future” Bishop Robert Schnase
2 Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart. Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart. In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart.
3 Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart. Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart. In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart.
4 Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart. Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart. In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart.
Dont be an Idiom.. What do we mean by heart..
- aching heart
- after one`s own heart
- at heart
- bleeding heart
- break (someone`s) heart
- close to (someone’s) heart
- cross one`s heart and hope to die
- die of a broken heart
- do his heart good
- do it in a heartbeat
- eat one`s heart out
- find it in one’s heart to (do something)
- follow one’s heart
- from the heart
- from the bottom of one`s heart
- go (somewhere) in a heartbeat
- have a big heart
- have a change of heart
- have a heart
- have a heart of gold
- Bless their heart
- have a heart of stone
- have a heart-to-heart talk with (someone)
- have a soft spot in one’s heart for (someone or something)
- have one`s heart set on (something)
- heart and soul
- heart bleeds for (someone)
- heart goes out to (someone)
- heart is dead set against (something)
- heart is in one’s mouth
- heart is in the right place
- heart is not in (something)
- heart is set against (something)
- heart is set on (something)
- heart misses/skips a beat
- heart stands still
- heart to heart
- heartbeat away from (something)
- heavy heart
- in one’s heart of hearts, more correctly, core of ones heart, said Hamlet
- lose heart
- near to your heart
- not have the heart to do (something)
- open one`s heart to (someone)
- pour one’s heart out (to someone)
- search one`s heart/soul
- sick at heart
- sin sick heart
- strike at the heart of (something)
- take heart
- take to heart
- he ate at the buffet until his heart’s content
- tug at your heartstrings
- Warm some one’s heart
- warm the cockles of (someone’s) heart
- way to (someone’s) heart
- wear one`s heart on one`s sleeve
- win (someone’s) heart
- with all one`s heart (and soul)
- young at heart
But today, the idiom of our text is to be known by heart, known within our heart.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people [Jeremiah 31:33, NRSV]
As Paul writes to encourage and instruct the church at Corinth, he draws in the Passover Tradition of starting with Unleavened bread. How do we know Christ in our heart?
We have to empty the refrigerator sometime… to start fresh.
So our relationship, needs a good old fashion dose of the resurrection of Jesus to wake up what is dead and leading us to death.
Easter is not a day of rest, it is a day to open our hearts to the very Heart of God.
God wants the CORE of who we are, not just a holiday, not just a Sunday. God wants US everyday.
This is the power of Easter for us right now.
God has given all, I mean ALL, for your heart.
God wants you to not just know ABOUT him nor only ABOUT the story.
GOD is dying for you.
GOD is living for your life.
This is what EASTER means to us today… Most likely you have all hear the Good News of the Easter message..
SO WHAT? I have ben wrestling with the book NOT A FAN, about being a follower compared to being a fan.
ASK yourself this morning: What does it mean that God wants to be at CENTRAL OFFICE, the CORE, at the CPU, at the beginning and end of you.?
Am I willing to give the Live God, the power of the God’s Spirit? The grace and love of Jesus the steering wheel wherever we go,
If so, than I need to forgive some folks, serve some folks, trust some folks, meet some folks, let go of some folks,
In my Heart, In my Heart, Lord I want to be your son, daughter, man/woman, youth, child, YOURs.
This is the Easter Invite..
Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [NRSV]
Matthew 1.18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 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. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. [NRSV]
Matthew’s Joe the Carpenter
Matthew spends the first portion of the first chapter telling the world his research from his early Christmas present from tryancestry.com 30-day free offer. He gives a concise history of relating father Abraham through King David to the father of Jesus, Joseph. It was customary to track the family relation line through the mother’s side of the family, so what is up with Matthew’s version? He stretches the family tree branches to roots into two neat and balanced sets of 14 generations linking the father of the covenant with the favored king of the people of God up to Joseph’s little Jesus boy.
One of the fun features of the online family tree database helps determine how many generations you might be related to famous founding fathers and mothers or former presidents.. no matter how far the stretch, we are related famous people some where. Unlike my paternal grandmother’s claims that we were of French decent, it turns out that after many years of researching the BRANTLEY name through England and possibly Switzerland. Our family name is said to a meaning: “Those who live in burned out lands.” So we conclude that we are from a long line of moonshiners, indentured servants and squatters. Sort’a makes you proud to know our roots run deep with fame and great integrity.
Joseph’s family tree squeezes a few branches to neatly fit on a the page of history in Matthew’s book for what purpose? He link’s Jesus to a history of God’s self-revealed witness in promise, favor, divine purpose. So why does Joseph have any doubt that God would be ready to continue to prized heritage?
So little is known of Joseph. It many painting and stories his vocation of a carpenter is captured in images of furniture making. But is a time of stone, break and tile construction, it is more likely that he made gates, wooden locks or crosses. These were the places where woodwork was most commonly used in Jesus’s time. But that is not as fitting with our image of contemporary or renaissance carpentry.
Never the less, Joseph, with a great family tree, must have forgotten his royal blood line as well as his trade was working with resources that were more rare than we could imagine. No mighty pine forests, no oak and poplar farms, cedars were scattered and wood was a scares commodity.
Joseph, was a decent fellow. He found himself in an embarrassing social setting with Mary, his fiancée. Joseph being a resourceful fellow, tries to down play, move one, no harm- no foul, perspective. Joseph is ready manage the problem and work out a solution with the lead damage for either he or Mary.
He was a fix-er: Someone who can identify the problem, find a solution and execute with precision.
HERE IS WHERE TO STORY BECOMES read and interesting to each of us personally.
Compare what we know about Mary and Joseph. She found favor with God and was eagerly ready to be an instrument and vessel for God’s work and witness. Joseph see’s the problem not the opportunity. He finds a solution to what he has identified as a problem and is ready to “make it so” as the Captain orders.
Joseph is our modern example of what to do when God’s will and way is 180-degrees from “our best judgment” and we choose to follow God’s instruction. Joe the Carpenter stands as a ordinary good person who lay aside the focus of the self in exchange for focus on God.
It is a Christmas miracle when we see someone choose the heart of God over their own heart.
That’s what we like about the changed-uncle scrooge.
That’s what we like about the big guy in the red suit doing the impossible to bring joy to a suffering world. That’s what we like about the Grinch who has a change of heart.
That’s what we like about one person allowing the news of the Christmas Story encourage the faithfulness of one to like Charlie Brown to keep Christmas when all the others are packing up the decoration of the world.
Joseph is the change of heart guy, who does the good think God asks.
Did he have to? No.
The story could have been very different of he had walked away from Mary or imposed his plans over God’s plans. God didn’t make Joe have faith. Here is the hidden gift of Christmas.
The messengers come to tell it, the question is do we believe and trust our hearts with God’s.
Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is the task of Christmas, All year long.