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Keeping Joseph in Christmas

John Shea talks about not turning a story into an idol. He says, "It is merely a gate they open so we may go inside.” So, let’s go inside the nativity story in Matthew to consider Joseph for a few minutes.

Joseph was a fine, upstanding Jewish man trying to do everything right and everything according to the Jewish laws. A serious man, and yet not unkind. But when he’s thrown a curveball, he chooses to step out of the game. He wants to return Mary to her home as “damaged goods.” His ego, his reputation, his pride are all at stake here. It’s cut and dried as far as he is concerned.

Joseph doesn’t think twice about his decision until he has a very powerful dream in which he’s asked to consider a completely different path. A path that won’t be easy. But a path that is line with the spirit, and compassion, and heart. The message comes in a dream because that’s the only time Joseph is open enough to hear of a new possibility. 

We all have unexpected turns in our lives, bumps (or maybe mountains) in the road, not unlike Joseph finding out his wife is pregnant. It’s easy to respond with a knee-jerk reaction, saying or doing the first thing that comes to mind. It’s easy to respond in a way that protects our pride and our ego.

RIchard Rohr once said, "I often call the Spirit an interior homing device. For all our stupidity and mistakes, we have a deep internal intuition… It’s called the divine indwelling."

It’s much more difficult to stop and listen to the spirit, to that interior homing device, to our hearts and intuition. But this is where we find true direction from a Larger Love. Direction that sometimes requires us to be vulnerable, to trust and to risk. Direction from a Larger Love that will hold us through whatever lies ahead.

Joseph wasn’t a hero, wasn’t really special in any particular way other than he listened. It’s a lesson to all of us ordinary folks to pay attention to dreams and what our hearts are telling us. Pay attention to our deep internal intuition that is connected to the web of existence and a wisdom and love deeper and wider than we can imagine.

For this lesson alone, it's important to keep Joseph in Christmas. 

Love & Light!


PS - I told a great story with this sermon, you can listen to it here.