Friday 13 December 2013

Joseph - adoptive dad

I am aware in the heart of the nativity scene is a man agreeing to raise someone else's child as their own.
Now the circumstances are clearly different from a contemporary story, no social work assessment, no adoption panel and no matching process. I've had the a few intimidating meetings with social workers in my time but I would imagine a visit from the angel of the Lord could be quite stressful.

So Joseph agreed and the whole nativity story progressed as I'm sure we all know. But then Joseph raised Jesus, taught him a trade and other than that there is not a vast amount mentioned of him.
However, the story of the boy Jesus being accidentally left at the temple for three days intrigues me. Joseph and Mary finally track Jesus down and I presume quite frantically ask where the blue blazes he has been. Jesus responds "I was in my father's house". It is one of those stories that I have heard preachers use but I have often thought about what that meant for Joseph as Jesus' adopted dad.

In other circumstances with different players I'd would can imagine the words of an angry child trying to hurt an adoptive father. The subtext being you're not my dad I was in my 'real' fathers house.

In fact, recently, in the middle of an epic hoo ha with Flossy she declared that "Anyway, your just my step dad!". Now,  Flossy and logic are not happy bedfellows. So, even though Google confirmed my explanation she'd wanted to hurt me and put me in my place rather than confirm the legal nature of our relationship.

I am no theologian but I am aware you can take almost whatever you want from the bible and our own perspective influences how we read it.

But, reluctant to bring a fundamentalist Anglican jehad on myself, I would dare to suggest that Jesus's words were not meant to hurt but rather to remind Joseph that he was part of the picture to the whole picture.
As an adoptive father the reality is that I am one of my children's fathers, the current one. To forget or deny that is folly and risks segregating me from a significant part of my child's life. As parents we need to equip them and support them to manage this information and its consequences, big or small, in their lives.

I wonder what Joseph thought and did when he heard Jesus say that. Clearly, we have no way of knowing and anything I say is a guess. I would like to think that he smiled, considered the last Dan Hughes book he'd read, gave him a hug and kept on loving.


  1. An interesting post. And something that I will talk to the NC about tonight I'm sure. I did giggle a bit at the last sentence - I didn't realise Dan Hughes was that old! ;-)

    Thanks for linking up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x

    1. Thank you, and thank you for letting me link up to WASO, it's a window to another whole new world.

  2. I enjoyed reading this!

    1. Thank you, I'd been mulling these theological issues over for quite a while. It was fun to write.

  3. You know I've read that maybe a hundred times and never even thought about it from the viewpoint! Great post :)

  4. I wish I could take credit for the insight but I'm sure that I heard it somewhere, I just can't remember where, or if I even did.
    So, what the hell, thank you very much!

  5. Such an interesting post, thanks for sharing this, had never thought of that and I took it that Father is everyone's father so wouldn't have offended Joseph. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x