Joseph - Defender of the Fatherless

This is a repost of a bit I wrote last Christmas for the Idea Camp/Orphan Care conference.

***

It was to be a quiet divorce. A silent separation.

I imagine the first conversation between Mary and Joseph, the one before the angel visited him. Mary coming to him with tears, saying, “I’m pregnant and I swear, I know it’s hard to believe, but this is the chosen one, the Son of God.” Joseph stood contemplating fact or fiction, excuse or explanation. He wondered whether to accept Mary’s word or hunt down the scoundrel — “who did this to my fiance?” Maybe he seethed.

Mary was so tender, so meek and mild, maybe delusional.

With an awkward sort of compassion, Joseph, “being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.” It was the best he could do, he thought. The dream-state proclamation of Immaculate Conception changed it all — “the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit,” the angel said. And though it’s not in Scripture, I wonder if the Angel might have said, “and that child needs an daddy here on earth.”

There are so many themes in the Christmas story. Sometimes we get lost in angels, wise men, and mangers, and that’s assuming we make it past the wrapping and trim. But if we dig deeper, if we look closer, there are sub-themes that tie into the larger meta-narrative of scripture.

When Jesus chose to take our skin he first took residence in an unwed mother. He chose the potential of fatherlessness.

Scripture is clear, God will provide for the fatherless. In the Christmas narrative God provided by way of a simple carpenter, a man who had every right to secretly divorce his fiance. But that carpenter transcended occupation and became known as a biblical hero of our faith.

Certainly Christ is the center of this season. But for a season that also celebrates the bit characters like Mary and the wise men, perhaps we should consider the life of Joseph more closely. As a man he was pragmatic, certainly. But as a follower of the living God, he shed his pragmatism in obedience to a call, choosing to be called “daddy” by “God with us.” And in his decision to care for the fatherless, the world received the reconciling grace of God.

***

If you are looking for a way to engage the fatherless this Christmas season, might I suggest you look into child-sponsorship in Uganda? HELP, a grass-roots non-profit is doing some amazing work. It might be a fantastic family project.

VISIT HERE TO GET STARTED!

Chris Interrupted (A Twelve Causes Post)

This post is part of Joy's "12 Causes for Christmas" series.  You won't want to miss out on the other causes.  Visit her site for more.

***

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” ~ Matthew 5:9

Chris Thornton wears his occupation well. He has a banker’s knack for numbers and a penchant for company embroidered shirts. He’s everyday normal, keeps between the lines, lives by the books. Chris  is a do-right kind of fellah. He gives the appearance of being risk averse.

A banker he is, through and through. At least that’s what some might say.

I know a different Chris Thornton. A wild-eyed believer. A radical. A man in reckless pursuit of peace and reconciliation.

When I first met Chris—really met him, that is—we sat across the table from one another, separated by a basket of chips and common bowl of salsa. The Invisible Children documentary had led him to a village outside of Jinja, Uganda, he said. He met Pastor Edward, a man struggling to bring the kingdom to a group of widows and orphans.  The village was outside of the normal sponsorship networks like Compassion International or World Vision, Pastor Edward had told him.  The children were out of sight, out of mind.  And to Chris, this was unacceptable.

Chris returned, life interrupted. He visited churches, bringing pictures of the children and giving voice to their stories. He asked for child sponsors and the people answered. In the two years following his trip to Uganda, Chris would build an overwhelmingly large network of sponsors. “It’s almost too much,” he told me. “I just need some help.”

And help was waiting.

Over the course of the following year, I watched Chris spread his grassroots, reaching out to different organizations. One particular organization answered. H.E.L.P., a burgeoning non-profit, was expanding its child sponsorship programs in Haiti and Zimbabwe, and wanted to reach other countries. Their organizational structure was well-established and they were looking to branch out. It was a natural fit.

Chris and H.E.L.P. have now teamed up to make child sponsorship a reality to the small village in Uganda.  It's a miracle. A real one. And sometimes I ask Chris how it all happened.  But before he can answer I always say, "It's because you're crazy. You allowed your life to be interrupted.  And that's why I like you."  

***

I could not love the work of Compassion or World Vision more.  In fact, read what Deb (World Vision) and Jessica (Compassion) wrote today about those organizations.  But before you head off to their places (and I hope you do), would you consider sponsoring a child outside of the reach of the traditional child-sponsor organizations? Would you consider allowing your life to be interrupted?

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Remember, there is no competition among Gospel-centered workers, only brotherhood.