On Christmas morning, Janelle wrote an eloquent piece in the quiet of the morning, sharing warm cups with Mary and thinking about the birth and questions she would like to ask her. Christmas is a time to reflect on that birth and what Mary’s son has done for us.

But during the past few weeks, I have been thinking about “the carpenter’s son”.

I think Joseph must have been a great dad. He cared for and protected Jesus as a babe, and I expect taught him his trade as he grew. When Jesus began his ministry, some scoffed and said, He is just the carpenter’s son. Why should we listen to him? Perhaps they had seen him, sweaty and dirty as he dug a foundation or lifted a timber.

He was conceived by the Spirit but he was reared by the carpenter.

I thought of that just after Christmas, as folks from Canada, the USA, and Mexico gathered in San Vicente, Mexico to build a classroom in Lopez Rayon, an indigenous community a couple of miles away.

Some were unilingual English, some unilingual Spanish, a few were bilingual, but we all spoke the common language of laughter, work, and love. It was here I saw the carpenter’s son at work.

When we arrived in San Vicente, we didn’t know he would be part of the crew. But he needed to support his family (he was a young father with a wife and three children) and he showed great initiative, so he was hired to work with us. He was often paint splattered and sweaty, but always at work.

We discovered he lived in a tiny house that appeared to be built with whatever he could scrape together. It had no electricity, no insulation, and no heat. The floor was gravel covered with a scrap piece of carpet.

We had some materials left over, so three sheets of OSB were given to him. Perhaps he could use it to line a wall or in some other way improve his little house. That evening, Roy took him and the OSB home. When they arrived, he asked if it would be alright if he gave it to his neighbour, because his neighbour’s roof leaked and his didn’t. They carried it across the fence to his neighbour. He pointed to the heavens and said, “It’s not from me, it’s from God.”

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And we saw the carpenter’s son at work as God and flesh came together in the form of a small Mexican man in San Vicente, Mexico.

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