In this week's gospel reading we hear the well worn story of Jesus' birth from the author of Matthew's perspective. In this version, which is different from the version in Luke, we hear much more about Joseph's side of the story that Mary's. In Luke, Mary is visited by an angel in a dream. In Matthew, it is Joseph cast in the role of divine dreamer. In this story, chronicling the events leading up to Jesus' birth, we are told that Joseph has been betrothed to Mary and that when he finds out that she is pregnant, decides that he will dismiss her and dissolve their betrothal quietly, so as to not disgrace her. This would have not only been his legal right, but a compassionate option as well, saving her from public ridicule. God, though, challenges and invites Joseph into a third way. A way that is beyond what is allowed, beyond what the quietly compassionate, to the radically vulnerable. The radically counter-cultural. The way of courage and love. Joseph was content to walk away and move on to the next part of his life, but God invites him into God's story in a way that challenges his cultural assumptions and requires him to not just protect Mary's honor, but ties his future to hers and open himself up to the same ridicule. Joseph is invited into participation in God's work in the world and all in requires is a counter cultural act of courageous vulnerability. Where do you see the opportunity for such a counter-cultural, courageous, and/or vulnerable act in your life? How might God be moving in this invitation?
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