O Where, O Where are the virtues of character and compassion. These are virtues less honored. 2021 has been a year full of strong delusions, wretched lies, abhorrence to science and rejection of democracy. O Lord, my Lord. The faith of our fathers and mothers, grandparents and ancestors are under constant attack. There is an attempt to conduct an erasure for the reality of our historic experiences as African Americans under the bondage of racism, hate, and greed.
And yet there is still a remnant that cries out to God “O Lord how long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true…”. [Rev. 6:10] And yet there is still a remnant that holds on to truth of God’s word and the reality of Christ as Savior, Redeemer, and King. And yet there is still a remnant that enters the Advent Season with Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.
We are encouraged through the witness and the word of God in the lives of His beloved servants in the gospels. This season ,we are encouraged in through the narratives of the birth of Jesus The Christ of Nazareth. These ancient texts provide for us life lessons still relevant.
Consider: The Heart of a Carpenter
After all the begats in Matthew chapter one, the text moves to the midst of much family drama. There is Mary, a young teen, who had been engaged to an older man, Joseph, the carpenter. At some point during the engagement season, Mary is found to be with child. And it is at the height of this drama that the Holy Scriptures introduces us to the character and compassion of Joseph.
The word of God tells us that Joseph is a righteous and faithful man. Praise God for righteous men. To Be righteous means to strictly observe the moral code of the Mosaic law- the Torah. One is to abide in the Torah in righteousness, that is right conduct in accord with God’s will as revealed in the scripture. Under the Mosaic law as found in Deuteronomy 22:21- a female could be stoned to death for playing the whore. And here we have Mary found to be with child- pregnant. Under the law- she should have been stoned.
However, Joseph being a righteous man was unwilling to expose to expose her to public disgrace. In other words, he did not want to put Mary’s and his business all out in the streets of Nazareth. Today that would mean- all over face book, tic tock and Instagram. The plan of Joseph was to dismiss her quietly. Joseph struggled in his dilemma. His struggles revealed his character. The character of a righteous and faithful man. The laws said stone her. Character said NO- that would not be right to do to this young girl. The laws said bring her out for the entire town to see- expose her. Character said No- that would not be right. Joseph was amid a family drama where he had to choose between doing the right thing and doing things rightly. And his character was struggling, contemplating, worrying about what to do in this situation. The very fact Joseph contemplated and had worries are indications that his character stood strong during this personal crisis.
Have you ever found yourself amid a personal crisis? What did the crisis reveal about your character? It is at times like these, I lean in and rely on Christ to be my strength and my guide. My strong tower during my storm. I don’t feel strong, but Christ helps me to stand strong. In fact, it is hard to feel anything but high anxiety.
Joseph was a man with feelings. And his feelings were centered in compassion. Compassion walked in. Compassion said: Let’s do this thing quietly, without fanfare, without a public spectacle. Let this be a quiet dismissal. Again- a quickie divorce. This was a struggle for Joseph. He was facing a crisis of great magnitude. The law said he should die. Compassion said Let her Live.
I am moved by the character and compassion of Joseph. Joseph was a good man. Mass media and society depict the men in our community as anything but men of character. Never-the less- despite the false images of the world. There are more than a few good men. There are good men, who love God and serve with their whole heart. There are good men who both love and respect their wives. There are good men who are fathers who are present in their lives. There are good men in our families, in our communities, and in our churches. Praise God for Godly Men serving God in spirit and truth.
I am grateful for the good men God placed in my life. My stepfather who loved me as his own flesh and blood Great teachers that saw the possibilities in my life in spite to the pain of my life. The wonderful Pastors who shepherded me through the Holy Scriptures and the call upon my life. The good men who inspired me, loved me, and gave me Hope amid family drama and darkness. I thank God for the compassionate and faithful men in my life.
As Joseph struggled with his dilemma and thought he had reached a just resolution; God stepped in and show him a better way. God determined to take Joseph’s character and compassion to new heights, new depths in Him. God leveled Joseph up. Yes, Joseph was a good man, a man of character, and a man of compassion. But he still had room to grow. Don’t we all? God was not finished with him yet. God was about to give Joseph a new vision and a new hope. God was about to give Joseph an attitude adjustment.
There are times in our lives where we all need an attitude adjustment. No matter how righteous or just you believe your position may be- there is still God’s view, God’s way, God’s divine purpose that super cedes your myopic attitude. And then God sends you a word- through a song, through a sermon, through another person, through a sense of the spirit as to how to deal with your dilemma and circumstances. Compassion comes into your life and gives you new hope. Compassion levels you up!
I stand in awe and wonder as to why God would choose a carpenter to be the surrogate, step daddy to our Lord? Why would the God choose Joseph to be the earthly father to Jesus? Not a king, not a rich man, not a Pharisee or a Sadducee. God choose a humble carpenter.
You see a carpenter is an artisan. A carpenter works with his hands. A carpenter is creative. A carpenter has vision. A carpenter can look at a tree, a piece of wood and sees what the wood can be the carpenter can see a different dimension in the tree. The carpenter sees the possibilities- a chair, a table, a new houses’, a house renovated and reconstructed. Yes, the carpenter sees the possibilities. And it just makes good sense for Jesus to have an earthly father who has the representative qualities of his heavenly father. One who would look on a woman in a stressful situation and see for her life and not death. One who could understand that just like a tree is not just a tree, neither is the pregnancy just a pregnancy; but rather this woman was carrying the anointed messiah. Doesn’t it just make sense, that Jesus’ earthly father just like his heavenly father looks beyond our circumstances and sees the possibilities for our lives and not the limitations of our circumstances.
Doesn’t it just make sense, that the God of Character, the God of Compassion, the God of Justice, the God of who had character, compassion, and hope.
As you enjoy the rest of this Advent season 2021, I challenge you to let God almighty, through the saving Grace and Power of his son Jesus Christ to be led by his Holy Spirit to have the heart of a Carpenter to:
Walk with character
Walk with compassion
Walk with conviction
Walk with grace
Live with heavenly possibilities
Live with Love
Live with hope
Beloved of God, have your vision healed so you like the Carpenter can see the possibilities of eternal salvation and grace for daily living, here and now through the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And if you do not know him as your personal savior and redeemer, let me introduce you to the reason and hope for the season, let me introduce you to the son of a compassionate carpenter…His Name is Jesus….
O Lord, my Lord, O Sovereign God;
In this advent season of Hope. We seek thy divine intervention in our lives, the lives of our family, our community, and our nation. Lord we speak against the strong delusion that is clouding the vision of Americans. We cry out for social justice. O Lord too many young Black men and women dying. Racism and Sexism and White supremacy is raising its ugly head. O Lord my Lord, How Long O Lord how long.
And yet we know we are not a people without HOPE. We place our hope in thee. We trust your compassion to meet the needs of our community and our nation to be whom you have called us to be. O Lord help us to level up to live your word out loud daily. To level up and be overcomers and true disciples of Christ. To level up and live our Hope in thee out loud. We pray for your divine will to be done. We pray that you will usher in a mighty hand that empowers the reality of true social justice in thee. Not our will, but thy will be done. We pray O Lord God for HOPE.
In Jesus Name. Amen.
Grace & Peace