Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Dreams of Saint Joseph

No sermon today, we sang the first two verses of Christmas hymns instead...Wheeee!!!

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;
to guard him, and protect his mother mild;
the angels hovered round, and sang this song,
Venite adoremus Dominum. Refrain
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.

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.
Matthew 2:13-15,19-23
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.’
...(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.’
You may recall that Joseph was also visited back in chapter 1 of Matthew (verses 19-21),
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:
‘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.’
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.

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.


  1. I was amused by the revisionist politicization of verse 2 in Hymn #100 (Joy to the World). The original words, as written, are "...let men their songs employ." In the brave new world, we get "...let us our songs employ." It just doesn't resonate.

  2. Joseph' faith in God, given his upbringing and world he lived in is truly amazing. It's surprising that he's not given as much consideration as other great men of the faith.


  3. Thanks for stopping by Cato. Just like "Good Christian Men Rejoice" has become "Good Christian Friends Rejoice."

    I am afraid we are losing...I overheard someone today changing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" to something gender neutral.

  4. Randall,

    He is remembered in certain corners of the world where elaborate altars are made for his feast day (March 19).

    You can visit a virtual altar starting Feb 19, 2011 here.

  5. UP...

    St. Joseph is also remembered in certain corners of the real estate world where his icon is buried in the yard to facilitate a sale. Wonder if he approves of such mercenary uses of the icon?

  6. I accidently deleted his comment, but

    Rob Eaton+ said...

    St. Joe Brick Works, Inc., Pearl River (Slidell) Louisiana.

    Also, my wife learned early in her real estate career that the RC Portuguese around here still like to observe the old, old custom of burying a St Joseph statue (patron of carpenters) in the front lawn with hopes of selling their home.
    Now, I don't know if the St Joseph tradition is why the family called their business St. Joe bricks over a century ago, but it does seem appropriate, doesn't it?
    Anyway, there are definitely some connections. Here's a link to a less-than-official website re: that statue tradition, but it has all the accompanying prayers and suggested ritual.