Poor Joseph. He doesn’t have much of a role in our Christmas pageants. Sure, he’s Mary’s consort, but the shepherds and Magi and angels enjoy more of the limelight. Joseph stands in the dimly lit background, trying to find a hotel room and ending up with the animals. A comic failure that somehow works out okay in the end.
Joseph may be my favorite character in the Christmas drama, mostly because of his off-stage presumed struggles. And, by “presumed,” I mean presumed by me.
He’s the non-parent, the step-parent, the shuttled-off-to-the-side surrogate daddy of the promised one.
If his role is minimal in legend, maybe it should be greater. In such a patriarchal culture, Jesus and Mary needed a Joseph to keep the family safe and together.
What if Joseph had not assumed the role of father? Would Jesus have perished in poverty, dependent upon a single mother with little to no earning power? Would mother and son have survived a trip to Egypt to escape a despot?
This week, I’m remembering all those people who stand in the background but have huge roles in our lives. From parents and relatives to teachers and friends. From those who give material support to those who offer supporting words. From those who work to end poverty, to the poor who struggle to lift up themselves and others in similar situations.
In the background? Sure. But smiling, hopeful, encouraging, loving.
The background is where people stand who have nothing to prove, but everything to give.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2013