There always seems to be one man left out of the Christmas hymns. We tend to hear more about shepherds, than him. We just missed singing about him in verse 3 of Hymn 110 today.
Saint Joseph, too, was by to tend the child;The house I was raised in had a brick foundation, and when we were kids, we removed one of the bricks to create a secure hiding place for our kid's club secret documents. The brick we removed had the words "St. Joe" molded into it's once motar covered face.
to guard him, and protect his mother mild;
the angels hovered round, and sang this song,
Venite adoremus Dominum. Refrain
Dad never discovered that chiseled out brick, the house never fell down, and something about "St. Joe" still gives me a feeling of security.
In Matthew's gospel, St. Joseph gets quite a bit of attention, and today we got to hear about three of his dreams. Unfortunately, a couple of verses got slashed by the lectionary committee, and I have placed these following the text we heard today.
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’You may recall that Joseph was also visited back in chapter 1 of Matthew (verses 19-21),
...(insert missing verses here*)...
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
You may note that when Joseph gets a heavenly visitor, the angel comes in a dream.
Oh yes, I forgot to tell you about the missing verses: 16-18,
*When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:Those missing verses were foundational to me. As a child, the slaughter of the innocents was a sharp reminder that God came into a cold, cruel world. What a dangerous place to be born into. Too bad the children present in churches that use the RCL will miss this part of the story. I guess they will sleep well tonight and not have any disturbing dreams.
‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’
I still don't want to visit the middle east.
Thank you, St. Joe, for providing a strong foundation for Mary, Jesus, and us too.