December 2014


I am always a little outside the main story. And it appears I am there again. My fiancé is pregnant and says “it is a God thing.” I know it is not a Joseph thing! She keeps talking about a baby born to a special purpose. She goes around the house singing lines from the prophet Isaiah like, “for a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders” or, “the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf, and the lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” Then she will stop singing; get a big smile on her face, point to her protruding abdomen and say, “that’s my boy!”

I don’t want to derail her bliss but I don’t like this feeling of being left out, so sometimes I will press her, “How do you know all this?” She becomes quiet and serious. Then with a straight face and a voice of firm conviction she talks of angel visits (even names them) and of well connected conversations with the Almighty. There is no arguing with that. You either agree and get into the game or put her away quietly, what another age will call, having her committed. Or you do what I do (what I do too much!): you hang around refusing to make a final decision. You settle for being an extra in what may be a God story, according to her, maybe the greatest God story ever.

If it is a God story I wish I had a bigger part. I have worshipped the Almighty for as long as I can remember. I memorized the laws of the Torah and made them my own. I saturated myself in the prayers of the Psalms. But more than anything else I have delighted in the great stories of our faith. If any angels were as interested in my deep spirit as they seem interested in Mary’s they would know my hunger to be part of such a story. I want to be one of the chosen to journey with Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. I want to be one of King David’s generals. Sometimes I even imagine myself sharing a martyr’s death, an eighth brother to the mother and sons martyred under Antiochus IV. I want to experience the energy and the fulfillment that comes from being part of a larger story that overshadows the long and uneventful hours of carpentry. I want to play a significant part (not the part of an extra) in a God drama that will give my life weight and significance.

But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. No big scripts coming my way; no agents after me to play the lead or even supporting actor role. So I must decide how to bide my time as an extra in Mary’s story. I could opt out and let her sink in the hardness of life; our society is not kind to unmarried pregnant teenagers. I could step back and see if one of her angel friends shows up! But that’s not me. If you can’t do anything else you can do no harm; you can choose to not make things worse than they are. And that’s what I will do. But I don’t have to be happy about it and I’m not. I just wanted to play a bigger part in a God story.

Note: These are the possible brooding thoughts of Joseph on the evening before the first of his dream messages from God (Matthew 1:20-21).

Pastor Lew



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