Advent – Week 2 – Obedience=Radical Reorientation

If you are ever driving east down 11th Avenue in Helena, look in your rearview mirror at Mt. Helena.  This reorientation of our view of the mountain makes it appear to be more of a wave, about to crash down.  It appears in the mirror as if a small earthquake, like many of us felt last night, would complete a eons old flow of land and rock like the crashing ocean surf.    When you see the mountain that way your brain almost wants to imagine a huge change is coming down.
This week our study of stories turns to Joseph.  The Joseph we know from scripture as a “righteous man,” but to which I heard recently referred to as “Jesus’ step-daddy.”  Matthew 1:18-25 tells of Joseph’s interaction with God that changed his life.  Joseph’s description as a “righteous man” means he followed temple law and lived his faith by the book.  Which means when he learned of Mary’s pregnancy without his being a part of it, he had every right within law to be done with her.  Instead, Joseph takes Mary and adopts Jesus.  Through this adoption Joesph’s life is tied to Jesus and through it Jesus’ lineage is tied to the ancient King David of Israel.  Joseph’s choice to make Jesus family in turn made it possible for him to be the Messiah told of in ancient days.
Obedience is a word often tied to Christianity, and a word that many people hate using in reference to their faith.  “Obedience to God” often sounds too much like we are somehow pets to a larger being with the power to make us “heal” even when we want to run out ahead.  Our struggle with the word sometimes gets in the way with the concept it presents. Think for a minute about the moments in your life you define as big moments, radical reorientations that changed your future.  How many of those moments happened because you listened to a calling or a deep feeling you had about what should happen next for you?  A big change to make you healthier, a relationship deepened through commitment, a change in career based on a talent you have, or perhaps just the idea to do something new are all examples of a calling to do something differently.
Joseph’s active obedience resulted in a radical reorientation of his life.
Being the “step-daddy” to Jesus would have radically altered Joseph’s life.  By making the choice to stay with Mary he would be intertwined in Jesus’ support from child to adulthood.  This man who followed the law chose to listen to God that night and to that calling on his heart.  Joseph would take Mary as his wife and in turn Jesus’ as his son.  Not a perfect pairing, but a match made in heaven.  Joseph’s faith was more than a legal agreement, but an obedience to the authority of a God that brings new life and big change through the smallest things.  How can we practice obedience this week?
Don’t look in the rearview mirror too long expecting Mt. Helena to finish its wave motion or you might hit the car in front of you.  However, take a glance in the mirror.  Sometimes it is through glancing in the mirror that we see the possibility of what is to come.  Take a chance this week and see where God is calling you to reorient your life to make more space for God to be born in you.