On Saturday, March 25th, Guilds of St. Joseph celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph at Christ Church Cathedral. Guilds from elsewhere in the Diocese of Fredericton were invited to attend. The following is the sermon by the Dean, part of the celebration of the Eucharist that day.
Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.
In the history of the people of Israel, David was the greatest of the kings. History, and in fact the Old Testament, looks fondly back on king David. David was not perfect but he was exceptionally noteworthy. David came from humble beginnings, a lowly shepherd boy was he, who rose to sit on the throne as king over Israel. He was human. Adultery and murder were among his sins. If you remember, David had slain the giant Goliath and was also found in relationship with Bathsheba, a woman not his wife, after which we orchestrated the murder of her husband as a cover up. David was well on his way to breaking not just one, but several of the big Ten Commandments. Even still, David is remembered most for his humility, his willingness to repent, and his heart for God. Even though he was the best Israel had to offer, the true strength of Israel was not in its kings, but rather in its God.
Through the prophet Nathan, God tells David that rather than the house he will build, the greatest temple, God himself will build the house. The prophecy is somewhat vague in its iteration, but looking back with Christian eyes it becomes all too clear. God promised to raise up one who would establish his kingdom for ever. Generations later, Jesus was heir to the throne of God.
Both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke take great pains to list the lineage of Jesus, connecting him to the kingly Davidic line. Both Joseph and Mary have significant family history. There is some discrepancy as to the exact number of generations, but its clear that the gospel writers saw the prophecy of the Hebrew Scriptures being fulfilled in Jesus.
Among his positive attributes, King David was a builder. The House of David, the temple, the tabernacle, was among David’s accomplishments. God spoke of an even greater and everlasting house. His Son Jesus would establish his kingdom which would last forever. The Gospel of John tells us:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …”
The Greek word, translated as “dwelt” is more exactly translated “tabernacled.” “The Word became flesh and ‘tabernacled’ among us.” The kingdom would no longer be flesh and blood, wood or stone. The established kingdom of God is a spiritual house that will last for ever.
Joseph was by trade a builder. There’s good evidence that Jesus himself was not a bad carpenter. David and the whole line of kings were builders. For centuries their success was attributed to the favour of God as they built a house. Failure was a sure sign of falling out of favour with God. But God said, “Moreover, I declare to you that I will build you a house, an everlasting kingdom.”
Guilds of St. Joseph carry on that legacy of building. And while what is physical plays a part, maintenance and repair of the temple, the tabernacle, we too are engaged in the spiritual building of the kingdom of God. Hammers and saws create a reason to get together, but most would affirm that it’s the fellowship – the working together – that’s the most important aspect of the association. Through our labours, we are witnesses and fellow builders of an everlasting kingdom.
Today, we give thanks for St. Joseph. We give thanks for Holy Joes everywhere. And we pray that our efforts will continue to build up and serve the kingdom of God established among us through Jesus Christ our Lord.