A priest and performer considers religion, the arts, and the often thin space between sacred and secular, church and culture, pulpit and pew.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Joseph's Dilemma - A verse sermon after Sondheim

This was not on your list
Not a part of your plan
When your young Mary came to you
When her story began…
How could THAT be the truth?
Surely she’d been unfaithful!
How could you, a good man
Keep the faith with her now
With her secret so shameful?

You could openly shun,
You could put her aside.
There’s no one who’d condemn you there.
Look, the Law’s on your side
And you’ve always abide
-ed by God’s own commandments.
So now here’s how it stands,
With her fate in your hands,
You can do what’s demanded.

Should you broadcast her plight?
Should you end your betrothal?
Knowing what that might do
Both to her, and to you
Would you shoulder that blame?
Or, in spite of her shame,
Was there something less scand’lous?
Something else you could do
Lest the worst would come true:
Her life hang in the balance.

So, compassion will out,
And you really do love her.
And you’ll think of a way,
At the end of the day,
That will not cause her harm.
Will not raise an alarm.
Simply part from her, quietly.
Though she’s broken your heart,
Send her back to her start,
Let her family hide her.

But then into your dreams                             
And disturbing your sleep
Comes the Lord’s wingéd courier
With a message that seems…
Well, as if he blasphemes.
Yet there’s truth in his face
And it bids you replace
All the doubt in your mind
All the fear in your soul.
And you see
In this strange reverie
God’s grace poured out in abundance.

And now you understand
Just what God had in mind.
How a humble, poor carpenter,
Truly righteous and kind,
Could be part of God’s plan,
Could assist God’s salvation;
And the Child who’d be born
Of your Mary that morn
Would redeem every nation.

Joseph, chosen to be
(out of David’s own house),
The young Jesus’ brave guardian,
Mary’s partner and spouse,
Is our own model true,
Of the faithful obedience
God is calling us to:
Faith that triumphs o’er doubt,
Love that casts out all fear:
“God with us”, our expectation.
Let us welcome God’s grace,
Word made flesh in small space,
Our desire, our hope, our salvation.

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