The Spirit of the Sovereign God is on me-Isaiah 61:1-2
because God has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
God has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Today I am thinking about Joseph. Not the faux-father of Jesus; I’m thinking about Joseph of Arimathea. He’s not part of the Advent story. When Jesus is born, Joseph probably a 23-year-old techno-optimist working at Amazon who every now and then buys a bottle of good wine for his working class friends. Joseph of Arimathea is the ultimate “nice white ally.”
Throughout the Bible runs a thread that asks the question, “Can a rich person truly be faithful?” Joseph of Arimathea is part of this thread; so is Job; so is King David.
The Bible asks without offering a satisfactory answer. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no. Joseph of Arimathea evolves, over the course of Jesus’ ministry. He provides the tomb in which Jesus is buried and the embalming spices. This can be read as a gesture of allyship or hypocrisy–how kind to turn up and help after the worst has already happened.
Joseph isn’t exactly an Advent story, but he is tangled up in the same system.
Now that the World Cup is over, I ask myself: Was it worth it? Did I stunt my moral development? Did I self-flagellate and moralize enough to justify enjoying the event?
Asking if we have justified our moral existence is rarely helpful. If we answer “no,” there is paralysis; if we answer “yes,” there is self-satisfaction. I still find my earlier rationales convincing, that there is no moral purity in the First World extracting itself from one link in the global supply chain, and that we can shame FIFA into acts of human decency.
Maybe I will look back and judge my participation in the 2022 World Cup to be a moral failing; I reserve the right to do so, and hope I will be humble enough to take the possibility seriously. Condemnation, however, is not constructive. There are no easy wins in the global supply chain.
God’s call has not changed. To do justice, love mercy, preach good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom to the captives. When he grows up, Jesus will announce his ministry by quoting these words from Isaiah 61. Isaiah and Jesus speak these words, inviting us to join them. The Spirit of God is upon us, too, to carry on this work. However you engaged the 2022 World Cup, this is what you are called to do now.