MONDAY THE NINETEENTH OF MARCH, 2018
* Joseph of Nazareth *
O God, our Father, we would thank you for all the bright things of life. Help us to see them, and to count them, and to remember them, that our lives may flow in ceaseless praise, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
( J. H. Jowett )
To Joseph of Nazareth God gave integrity,
David's descendant of Abraham's line;
for Mary and Jesus a husband and guardian,
chosen to cherish a saviour divine.
When Joseph of Nazareth worked for his family,
earning their living by things that he made,
he fostered in Jesus the skills of his craftsmanship,
teaching our Maker a carpenter's trade.
Be Joseph of Nazareth honoured in memory,
patiently working till Jesus had grown;
through years of obscurity hidden in Galilee,
loving, as father, a son not his own.
For Joseph of Nazareth, shaper of destiny,
nurturing Jesus from earliest days,
to God who is father and saviour and strengthener,
thanks be for Joseph, and honour and praise!
( Timothy Dudley-Smith )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Joseph of Nazareth: helping us understand the meaning of “Incarnation”
All that we know of Joseph we learn from the first two chapters of "Matthew" and of "Luke," together with passing references in the gospels. To say much else is to enter the wide field of speculation.
The story of Joseph in Matthew’s gospel leads us to understand that he had no marital relations with Mary prior to Jesus’ birth. So he is generally considered Jesus’ foster father. People speculate about Joseph’s age since the last reference we have to him being alive is the curious story of Jesus at age twelve becoming separated from his parents on a trip to Jerusalem. Was he elderly? Had he been a widower with children from that marriage? Were the brothers and sisters of Jesus, children he had with Mary or step-children or cousins?
In the face of circumstances where a man of lesser character might have reacted very differently, Joseph graciously assumed the role of Jesus' father. He is well remembered in Christian tradition for the love he showed to the boy Jesus, and for his tender affection and care for Mary, during the twelve years and more that he was their protector. If we accept the doctrine of the Incarnation fully, then we understand that Jesus was born as any other child, and had to grow up as any child. Joseph then helps us understand this by the interactions of a boy with his father, raising Jesus faithfully in the traditions of Judaism, teaching him to be comfortable at the workplace, showing him a father’s love. If the grown Jesus went around preaching that God was a loving father, one wonders if the influence of Joseph was helpful for Jesus in shaping that image.
The gospels use the word "tekton" to describe Joseph, traditionally translated as "carpenter." Although it is also the same word used to describe an architect or builder. Justin Martyr, writing in about 100AD makes a passing reference, that he has seen ploughs and ox-yokes still in use which were said to have been made in the carpentry-shop at Nazareth.
Whatever else we may say about him, the most lasting legacy of Joseph the Carpenter is what we see in the carpenter’s son.
Scripture. In the fourth chapter of "Proverbs," verses one to four, we read:
Listen, children, to a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight; for I give you good precepts: do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, and my mother’s favourite, he taught me, and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.
Let us pray for the people of God and for the world, and, inspired by the example of Joseph, for grace to grow in faith and holiness and to follow ever more closely in the way of Christ.
Joseph was the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah: may we value our family life at home and in the wider family of the people of God.
Joseph was not afraid to take Mary as his wife when he learned that the child conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit: may we have no fear when we hear God’s call to his service.
Joseph was a righteous man and unwilling to expose Mary to public disgrace: may we lead lives of integrity and be concerned for the reputation of others.
Joseph named the child Jesus, the one who will save his people from their sins: may we make known to others the salvation he came to bring.
Joseph protected the infant Jesus and his mother from the wrath of Herod: may we always seek to shield those who are weak and vulnerable.
Joseph took his family and returned to his native land: we remember those who have died recently. May we, with them and all the faithful departed,
be welcomed to the banquet of eternal life.
... for peace in the world.
... for the victims of the recent bomb attacks in Austin, Texas. DETAILS
... for those affected by winter weather, in particular those who have been stranded whilst travelling.
... for those affected by bushfires in Australia and elsewhere.
... for abandoned children; for adopted children.
... for circus performers.
... for people with multiple sclerosis.
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
Almighty God, we give you thanks for Joseph and for the whole company of your saints in glory, with whom in fellowship we join our prayers and praises; by your grace may we, like them, be made perfect in your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From “The Estate of Marriage" by Martin Luther:
Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise."
What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.
It says, “O God, because I am certain that you have created me as a man and have from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with your perfect pleasure. I confess to you that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving your creature and your most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labour, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in your sight.”
Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool, though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith, my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling, not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Those who sneer at him and see only the task but not the faith are ridiculing God with all his creatures, as the biggest fool on earth. Indeed, they are only ridiculing themselves; with all their cleverness they are nothing but devil’s fools.
O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate son and the spouse of his virgin mother: give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.