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Give thanks

8:45 p.m. Wednesday November 23, 2022. 51F/11C.

String. Vehicles heading toward the mountain today all came to a stop with the green pickup truck at the head of it all. Hot asphalt steamed in the dump truck ahead. With twenty minutes to wait for the next move of vehicles, the man in the red SUV took out his phone and stared into it. The work site held the odor of burning gears and tar. Two dozen workmen rested in truck beds and leaned on shovels. Bright yellow hardhats bounced up and down as conversations heated up. In the midst of it, the driver of the first pickup truck began singing loudly. The man resting in the truckbed removed his cigarette, grinned, and listened. Maybe five songs needed to be sung for the wait. And when all the tractors and trucks and SUV’s finally rolled by, he lifted a hand and waved at the singer. It’s all worth it, that task of being first in line at the traffic stop, on a curvy mountain road.

This sign used to say something!

The Gospel of Matthew, chapter two

Heavenly Father, we ask to be filled with your Spirit, to understand your word, and to have your love forever more. In the name of Yeshua, we ask. Amen.

As Matthew related the story of Yeshua’s childhood, he told of Joseph. That head of the family did exactly as the messenger angels instructed. He was trained as a carpenter during his younger years. He lived and worked in Jerusalem during the years of king Herod.

Herod ordered the slopes around two hills to be reinforced with walls, turning the hills into plateaus. He ordered a palace to be built for himself on one plateau. He ordered a new Jewish temple to be built on one of the hills as well. He ordered buildings for the Roman military. He built secret rooms for himself, to hide in.

Israel was not a large nation. A carpenter, serving as both stone mason and woodworker, would have known, or known of, Herod. Joseph had plenty of years to meet both Herod and his family. It was quite likely not a pleasant experience to be near the paranoid tyrant who named himself king.

Matthew said the following about Joseph:

But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

Joseph headed north, maybe a hundred miles, toward the Sea of Galilee. In the Galilee district, Samaritan country would lie between his family and Jerusalem. He went as close to the land of the Samaritans as any Jew dared, in the village of Nazareth.

I questioned whether Joseph was really afraid of the new ruler. The word meant “frightened” or “alarmed”. Then God gave Joseph another dream of warning. Joseph brought his family to rest in the district of Galilee.

The word Galilee meant “circuit”, or “the heathen circuit”. A well-traveled road went around the inland sea. But back to Joseph.

And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Nazareth meant “the guarded one”. It was a small town with some safety near the road that went right through Samaritan country. In fact, it was so close that the people said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

But there is one oddity in the verse that I could not resolve. Which prophets spoke that the messiah would come from Nazareth? Rumor says that it was found in the documents of the caves of Qumran. But for now, I must only say that Matthew knew of prophets that we no longer know.

Life in the hollow, Wednesday

It has been such a joyful day. I have nothing much else to say except this:

Give thanks. It is always good to give thanks to our Lord.

Amen.

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