Thinking about Joseph, I am reminded of all those whose calling is to support those whose ministry is more public.
As I reach the end of my first term at theological college training to be a priest I am acutely aware, from conversations with my peers and from my own experience, of the contribution made to our current formation and future ministry by partners and children, family and friends. Very often that vital work of support goes unacknowledged or under-appreciated, or else the family of those in public ministry find themselves on the receiving end of other people’s unhelpful projections.
I am reminded too of those faithful people in our congregations and beyond whose ministry is one of encouragement or enabling. The encouragers who always make the effort to say “well done”, “I enjoyed that”, “that was a courageous decision, thank you”, “you’re doing a great job” (especially when it doesn’t feel like it).
Then there are the enablers, who never take centre stage, but are the ones who get things done: sending out the reminder emails, stacking and unstacking chairs, washing the tea towels, remembering to order loo rolls, and felt pens, and communion wine… Too often these ministries of consistent care are belittled or ignored. But without them, the church (and the world) would cease to function. And in them, God’s endless care for every detail – every hair on our heads, every grain of sand – finds embodiment.
So, as we keep Advent as a time of preparation, who are the Josephs among us? Those who encourage and support, without looking for the limelight? Whose gifts, efforts and vocation go unnoticed? Thank God for them all!
#adventbookclub runs from 1st December until Epiphany. This year we using “The Art of Advent” by Jane Williams, and raising some money for Mercy UK, a mental health charity over at the JustGiving page here. Search #adventbookclub on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation.