Monday, December 10, 2012

Nativity: Joseph

5"x7" Oil on Canvas

I can still vividly remember the night my first child was born. It was a night filled with excitement and anxiety. Most of all, I remember the feeling of helplessness. We began with a plan to deliver naturally. Many hours later, our son was born through surgery. I remember struggling  for those long hours to bring comfort to my wife. After our son was finally born,  I remember being overwhelmed with feelings of complete and utter inadequacy as a new parent. But I got through that time with the love of my wife, the support of my friends and family, and the love I had for my newborn son. As I reflect this Advent on the story of the Nativity, I think I can identify most with Joseph. But I suspect my story doesn't even scratch the surface of what Joseph must have felt.

Michael Card penned it best when he wrote a song from Joseph's perspective. "How can a man be Father to the Son of God?" was one of the most powerful lines in that song. Whatever feelings he had as a first-time parent must have been compounded ten-fold with the feelings of inadequacy of  being a parent to the Messiah. But I think Joseph's love for his new family and trust in God helped to give him confidence.

This is the first of four paintings on the Nativity. In this painting, Joseph is kneeling in the presence of the new born Messiah. He is also resting with a staff. A tool for traveling and protection, this staff serves as a symbol to remind us of his need for support. As future pieces to this Nativity story are revealed, you will soon see that his gaze is different from Mary's. Joseph is posed to appear to be looking at either Jesus or gazing outward. Joseph could be lovingly looking upon Jesus. But he also could be looking at the world around him—wondering what will be coming next in their wild adventure. He could be wondering how he is going to provide food and shelter for this new family. He could be just trying to understand where he fits into this incredible God moment.

Ultimately, like all new parents, I believe Joseph did his best with what he had—one day at a time. With the support of his wife, his family and friends, Joseph took on the challenge of parenthood. He worked hard. He made mistakes. He trusted in God. He loved Jesus. And in doing all of these things, Joseph helped to raise a baby boy to become the Son of God.


Here is a link to video featuring "Joseph's Song" by Michael Card. The video shows other wonderful Nativity images. May the gifts of music and visual art bring your soul into a deeper relationship with God—our loving father.

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