I'm No Dreamer

Whilst my friend Sharon delivered yesterday's monologue at Seymour Street Methodist on Sunday morning, I delivered the following one. I wrote them over 15 years apart, but there are definite echoes of the former one in this "partner piece". One of the reasons I wrote it is that poor old Joseph is one of the most voiceless characters in scripture... Whilst the Protestant tradition has scandalously neglected Mary the Mother of Jesus over the years, no-one pays much attention to Jesus' step-dad. Yet he could, in many ways, be the patron saint of many of the dads I encounter today in "blended" families, or distanced from their children through relationship breakdowns, or not sure how to look after their families because they are working class men in a world where their skills are surplus to requirement. After the monologue, I've included some prayers prompted by the story.

Joseph is dressed in overalls/dungarees with a tool belt on, and begins with a hammer in his hand.

I’m no dreamer… not like my namesake, the son of our forefather Jacob, and friend of Pharaoh.

I'm a working man. I work with wood and nails, things you can touch and shape and hit with a hammer. And I did a lot of that when Mary first told me.

I couldn’t believe it… How could she do that to me? Who was the father?

All she would say was it was nothing to do with her. The baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit, ordained by God himself. Well, I’ve heard some excuses in my time… “Who do you think I am – a fool born yesterday!?”

But she seemed so genuine… so innocent… And, I thought, so na├»ve…

“Who has taken advantage of you? Who?” I asked… But she named no-one…

So I planned to drop the whole thing quietly, leave it to her parents to ship her off to some relatives to have the baby… But I knew the news would get out… the shame would stick… To me as to her…

And I took my frustrations out on the wood in my workshop…

But then, I had that dream… I hadn’t been sleeping at all since Mary told me… It was my first decent night’s sleep and I was annoyed to be roused… Only to realise that I wasn’t awake… and yet what stood before me was more real, more solid than anything in this world… An angel… a messenger from God he claimed...

And he confirmed Mary’s story… This child within her was not the result of a teenage fling, or someone taking advantage of a foolish girl but conceived by the Holy Spirit. I was told he was to be called Joshua… Jesus… Which means “God Saves.” A good name…

Somehow this child growing within Mary is supposed to save us all from our sins… And fulfil the words of the prophet… born of a virgin, showing that God is with us… Emmanuel.

Well, he had better be with us… because it won’t be easy… Not everyone will believe the story… Tongues will wag and fingers will point…

But I will do what I can.

I’ll carve a cradle for this son of God…

I’ll try to teach him the word of his Father. And I’ll train him in my trade… To work with wood and nails…


Prayers of Response

God our Heavenly Father,
We thank you for those who have been fathers to us and for the privilege of being fathers to others. And we pray for those men who are entrusted with children not their own… step-fathers, foster-fathers, adopted fathers and those who are father-figure to many through youth and children’s organisations. May you help them as they help to shape those in their care into the people you created them to be.

God of the Unexpected,
We pray for those whose plans have been upset, and who do not fully understand what is happening to, through and around them. Help them, and us, to be awake to your words of guidance and assurance, listening to you rather than our own fears or others’ gossip.

God of Righteousness
We pray that you would guide us along the right path in a confusing world. You are the Jesus, the God who saves, so save us from our sins, and our self-righteousness. You are Emmanuel, God with us, whether waking or sleeping, so assure us of you presence, even in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Shalom

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