It's been brought to my attention that my numbers are incorrect, since Advent actually began on the 30th, the 9th of December is Advent Day #10. My deepest apologies.
I've been thinking about Joseph since my little incident with the soap box a couple days ago. Joseph of Nazareth. Joseph "the Carpenter." Whatever you want to call him. Not the one with the technicolor dream coat. The New Testament Joseph.
My impression of Joseph developed after watching The Nativity. If you haven't seen that movie yet, you absolutely have to rent it this year. If you have, you probably saw Joseph in a new light too.
Joseph may go down in history as one of the greatest examples of servant-hood, because history remembers little about him.
Paul (the apostle) was a great servant of God, but he also wrote much of the New Testament. Mary (the womb) was a great servant of God, and to this day she's heralded almost as a goddess herself. David was a great servant of God, and thousands of years later is remembered as Israel's greatest king. They all went through their hardships, but they're also all remembered. No one knows much about Joseph today.
Consider this man's journey. He's just your typical Jewish carpenter in a worthless little town called Nazareth. He's lower-middle-class, blue-collar boring. He finds a girl he likes and they're engaged. To Joseph, that means he has a year to build a house and prepare a place for his bride. She goes on a vacation during that time to "visit her cousin," and comes back obviously pregnant.
This is a small, everybody-knows-your-name town. Everybody knows that Joseph is engaged to a young woman who did not keep herself for him. She's shameful. She's a slut. The law suggests she be stoned to death for her crime; it's that serious in this culture.
He's hurt and confused, and now he has a decision to make. He can uphold the law - and defend his name - by calling for her execution, or he can "put her away quietly" and be considered weak. He chooses the later.
We know the story. At the word of an angel of God, Joseph takes this woman as his wife anyway. Don't think that was easy to do. Then he takes her on a journey - I don't know how long - to his home town to be registered. All the movies show her riding on a donkey, but the scriptures never actually mention a donkey. She may have walked. That was sloooooow going. And we all know that pregnant women can be cranky and irrational and crave weird things. Who knows what that journey was like for the poor man.
And if you want to get really practical, consider he hadn't even gotten to "know" - as they say - his wife. They weren't even really married yet. He went through the whole pregnant wife/child birthing thing as a virgin himself. Poor guy.
To this day he gets very little thanks among men. People worship Mary, but no one even knows when Joseph died. He just vanishes from the story after they lose Jesus in the temple as a boy.
And - I love this - have you ever noticed he never speaks in scripture? Not one word is recorded in any of the gospels as, "and Joseph said, '...'" There's no record of complaint. No record of questioning. No record of boasting. He just listened and obeyed the voice of the Lord. He carted a woman and a baby from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt and back again, providing for all of their physical needs along the way, in quiet, humble obedience. In return, history on earth has largely forgotten him.
Would that I were more like Joseph.