St. Joseph’s is decorated for Christmas!
OT: Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
NT: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25
Many of you are, no doubt, familiar with the ancient liturgical tradition practiced by the Cameron Crazies. One of my favorite call-and-response chants at a Duke Basketball game is the “Oh, Baby” cheer. It goes a little something like this: after Duke makes a big play, the entire student section raises their arms over their heads, shout as loudly as they can the signified “O”, then drop their arms in unison while a single student hoists a plastic baby doll above the sea of fans. “Baby,” scream the Crazies. This, of course, repeats over and over again in rapid succession. “Oh, Baby.” “Oh, Baby.” “Oh, Baby.”
Clever adoration, to be sure.
Well, I have to admit, the “Oh, Baby” chant was not far from mind when my wife Crystal announced this week that she is pregnant with our first child. I didn’t raise my arms above my head or jump up and down like a crazy person, …but I’m quite sure my mother did when she heard the news. Children introduce so much hope and pure innocence into our lives, it is impossible not to be deeply moved in excited anticipation at their arrival.
Now, I’ve been slated to preach this Sunday for several months, and I don’t know if it was coincidence or providence, but obviously I was more than a little eager to hear today’s gospel reading about our church’s patron Saint: Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.
Mary, we read, is pregnant with child, but since she and Joseph have not yet come together in marriage, her pregnancy is surly scandalous. What, I wonder, did Joseph think when Mary broke the news to him? “Oh… Baby?” Really? How exactly did this come about?
Now, we’re not told a whole lot about Joseph. We know that he is a descendant of King David, and, therefore, also a descendent of the Patriarch Abraham, so his children would have quite the pedigree amongst God’s chosen people, Israel. But what is Joseph to do in this situation? He is not the biological father of Mary’s child. How is he to explain her pregnancy? How can he accept a child that is surely not his own? Continue reading