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Friday, July 11, 2014

Scripture Reading: Luke 23:50–56
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. (NRSV)

I would have liked to have known Joseph of Arimathea, this “good and righteous man.” He reminds me of what it is like to be identified with an organization that makes a decision in direct opposition to my own values. Joseph was a devout Jew. He had been a member of the council of chief priests that had shouted out to Pilate about Jesus, “Away with this fellow.” The council’s actions helped to decide Jesus’ fate, but Joseph had never agreed to their plan and action. I wonder what it was like for Joseph to stand and watch all of the proceedings. I wonder if he kept asking himself, “Did I speak up enough? Should I have said something that would have changed their minds? How can I still be part of this group?”

When a group of which I am a part makes a decision that I find abhorrent, I ask myself all of those same questions. And hopefully, at the end of my self-examination, when I realize I can no longer do anything to stop or change what has happened, I decide to rely again on the gifts I know I have or the values to which I still cling. That’s what I think Joseph of Arimathea did. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body to be released to him. Pilate agreed, and Joseph tended carefully to Jesus’ body. For me, Joseph is one of the first examples after Jesus’ death that good overcomes evil, that darkness cannot overcome the light. It would have been easy for Joseph to stomp away in disgust, turn in his Sanhedrin membership, busy himself in proving why he stood apart, but instead he claimed his own values again and acted.

Dear God, the world does not always work in the way I think it should. People surprise me, institutions disappoint me, and I find myself heartsick. Even in those most heartsick of days, help me to draw on my own gifts. Help me to cling to the values I hold so dear. Most of all, help me to be faithful to you. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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