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The forgotten hero in the story of Christ, Joseph, and an inspiration for fathers everywhere

Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-12-21 at 08.31.19 A couple of weeks ago I attended Christian Responsibility in Public Affairs' annual Advent Carol Service.

The service was addressed by Iain Duncan Smith and he gave a moving talk about the example of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. The Daily Mail has published a version of IDS' powerful talk today. You can read the whole article here but I've pasted extracts below:

"Joseph’s extraordinary contribution to the Nativity story and to Christianity itself has been underplayed for centuries but it is my hope that it will be overlooked no longer, for his importance hinges on the critical decision he took, which holds such a powerful message for our own time...

Despite the huge social pressure he was facing and despite the potentially dangerous consequences, Joseph took the decision to stand by Mary, to marry her, protect her and raise the child as his own. I like to think he took this decision not just because of a vision in some night-time dream but because he loved her and wanted to keep her safe. Certainly, if he hadn’t, the consequences for her could have been dire. A pregnancy out of wedlock would have made her an outcast, a pariah; but giving birth to a baby she called the Son of God could have got her killed. That’s why Joseph’s role is so important; without his support, neither Mary nor Jesus might have survived at all...

In parts of our society, too many young men and women grow up without the experience of a loving father. And we seem to have forgotten what an important role a father plays. It’s about far more than earning enough money to provide shelter and place food on the table; it’s about nurturing, support and loyalty, it’s about providing the best male role model that a man can...

So this Christmas, when you encounter that familiar Nativity tableau, try to look past Mary, the crib and even the Baby Jesus. Seek out that ordinary-looking face in the second row, almost lost behind the shepherds and wise men, and look into the eyes of the forgotten hero in the story of Christ; then smile and give thanks for Joseph."

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