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A diorama and aggadah short story: “Joseph Delivers the Goods”



This is the third of my biblical dioramas.[1] The first was of the Philistine cows bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel (1 Sam 6).








The second was of Philip the Evangelist explaining the scriptures to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8).

These were straightforward representations of Biblical incidents. Of course, some liberal theologians would have trouble imagining that either incidents really happened. I don’t have the any doubt that they occurred as reported. In regard to Philip being “carried away” from his rendezvous with the Eunuch, such things have happened throughout Church history. David Du Plisse, ‘Mr. Pentecost” reported an incident that occurred to him in his autobiography.[2]

My third diorama, the present one, represents one of Joseph’s business trips delivering his carpentry items to his customers. There is no direct biblical data on this. All we know biblically is that the Holy Family returned to Nazareth after their brief stay in Egypt. We also think that Joseph was a carpenter. Actually, the Greek word generally translated as carpenter more generally means tradesmen. So Joseph could have been a leather worker, stone mason, etc. But I accept the conventional translation as carpenter. The lack of specific scriptures on Joseph’s secular career allows much room for my imagination to invent a short story about his career.


The Jewish rabbis have a special name for this sort of writing, an “aggadah,” where by you fill in with details something that is mentioned in scripture.[3]  For Christian pastors it is a common sermon technique and some call it “text and tale.” Here I am doing a “text, tale and diorama.”
Aggadah:  “Joseph Delivers the Goods.”

When Joseph and the Holy Family came out of Egypt and settled in Nazareth he bought a carpenter shop with an apartment over-head for his family. The old proprietor had just died and his widow wanted to move to her elder son’s home. She sold Joseph the shop/apartment plus her husband’s tools at a bargain price.  Joseph resumed making chairs and tables, and small items such as lady’s cosmetic boxes.  They were simple but brilliantly executed. His chairs and tables were exquisite, as Joseph combined and aligned different types of wood to make mosaic like pieces.

But a customer asked for reclining dinner couch, which was common in the Roman World, and coming to fashion among the rich Jews (Lk: 22:14).  Joseph began doing these. He did them so well that orders started coming in from all over Galilee, and even a few from Jerusalem. In Galilee the phrase “a Joseph’s couch” meant something of excellent quality. Joseph prospered greatly and hired two employees to help him, and bought a wagon and a pair of horses to deliver the couches and other furniture.

Joseph was and animal lover and would not deliver his furniture on especially hot days.  Rather, he prayed for overcast sky or rain. His employees grumbled about the possibility of lost business, but after a while they realized no contract was ever cancelled over these delays. Joseph named his horses Jakin and Boaz, after the two pillars at the entrance of Solomon’s Temple.
  
Mary was also an animal lover and birds came to her garden in unusual numbers to feed and sing. Both Mary and Jesus developed a wonderful communication with them. [4]  Mary’s garden had two apricot trees, three apple trees, half dozen fig trees, and a vegetable plot, all arranged nicely by the house’s previous owner. There was always more than enough fruits and vegetables for the Holy Family and for Mary to give away to the poor. Her neighbors wondered how this was possible with all those birds around.

But Joseph and Mary were grieved by the weekly passing of Isaac the rug merchant. He always overloaded his wagon and more often than not beat his oxen team to exhaustion. One afternoon as Isaac was passing by with his usual beating (and cursing) one of the oxen dropped dead of exhaustion. Isaac tried to rent another ox from nearby farmers to get his wagon moving again, but no one would do that – his reputation was universally known. Isaac was forced to sell his load of rugs at fire-sale prices right then and there. Joseph had Mary pick out one she liked best, and he bought two others for resale. They were really beautiful rugs of the highest quality.

Before Mary chose her rug she prayed for the surviving beast, and watered it. Sure enough, the ox was sold in a few days to a kindly farmer who used it with wisdom and kindness, and it lived for years well taken care of. The farmer learned quickly that the ox only knew commands laced with curse words, but weaned the beast out of that.[5]

In my aggadahdiorama the Holy Family are all going with Joseph on one of his delivery routes.  Joseph is delivering a coach bed (minus mattress) and a chest to a rich olive farmer in Capernam. He must also deliver one of the rugs he bought to a saddle merchant in Magdala. Joseph will go first to Tiberius, the port on the sea of Gallilee, where Mary will stay with her favorite aunt until Joseph returns. Joseph will load the rug and furniture onto Jacob ben Joseph’s fishing boat and Jacob will sail it with Joseph and Jesus aboard to Magdala and Capernaum to complete the transactions. They will do a little fishing on the way back, which Joseph and Jesus like to do. Jesus loves these trips and is friends with Peter, a boy his own age, who is Jacob’s son, and will later become his famous impetuous Apostle. The barrel in the wagon is now empty, but will be filled with water and live fish on his way back.


Mary is three months pregnant with her second child, and is not showing yet. Joseph did not want her to travel in her condition, but she pleaded and cried a little – there she is on the wagon. It really was a pleasant and safe trip. It took two days and they stopped midway at a roadside inn. (Joseph had money, so there was room for them this time). Mary had not read the false Gospel of James (written about a hundred years later) which claimed that after Jesus’ birth her hymen was miraculously repaired and she and Joseph never had intimate relations. He was described as a very old man. This is the origins of the “Mary, ever-virgin” story.

In my aggadah, Mary really loved Joseph, so she was able to do what the Bible plainly said she did, have children by him (Matt 13:56). I suppose this makes her a “Protestant” Mary.”[6] (That she was Protestant is verified by a report among some biblical scholars. It is of an ancient Syriac manuscript, residing at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Saini, which describes the angel Gabriel  appearing to Mary a second time and presenting her with a copy of the King James Version of the Bible, complete with the Darby study notes, plus a Strong Concordance, all of which  which she could miraculously read in Aramaic.)

In the diorama it is a cloudy day (of course) and the canvas side coverings are rolled up. The wagon is filled with the couch bed (dismantled) and a large chest to be delivered to the same customer. On top of a barrel is a wooden plate with bread and fruit for lunch time. Jesus just had a cantaloupe snack – you know how hungry teens get.  A box of Joseph’s tools can be seen next to Mary.


On one side of the wagon there is the rolled up rug for the customer in Capernaum, in a canvas cover to protect it from the elements. You can see another piece of canvas between the food and the chest for use in case it rains. On the other side of the wagon hangs a water skin for both for the Holy Family and the horses, and a laundry basket full of bed sheets, etc., for use in the inn. This avoided an abundance of bed vermin – Joseph and Mary had definite limits to their love of animals. (The basket is my mother’s old sewing thimble, panted.)



In the picture below you can see the German WWII farm wagon and soldiers kit I converted into this diorama. I did not take pictures of the stages of this conversion as other modelers do. My hobby desk in incredibly messy and that might be a scandal to some of you, and be an embarrassment to my wife. While working on my projects my most common mumbling goes something like, “Lord, help, where did I put that piece?”



Also, if you don’t like my aggadah, write one yourself. Some of my Catholic friends may want a version with Mary NOT pregnant and Joseph a very old man as first described in the Gospel of James. Go to it.You  may borrow the pictures in this blog.

Blessings…

  





[1]Information about my miniature soldier hobby may be found at the blog posting, “The Christian Cardstock Modeler, “Addicted to Modeling.” http://christiancardmodeler.blogspot.com/2013/03/addicted-to-modeling.html
[2]David Du Plessis, The Spirit Bade Me Go(Plainesville: Logos International, 1970). I don’t have time to find the page number where this is recorded. This may encourage you to read the entire biography, one of the classics of Pentecostal/charismatic literature.
[3]I have not learned Hebrew, and among my Facebook buddies who know some Hebrew there is a dispute as to which word is proper for an elaboration of a biblical incident. Some prefer Midrash, but the Wikipedia definition of aggadahseems closer to what I mean.
[4]Similar accounts have been described in the lives of some Catholic saints. Go find the incidents in Butler’s Lives of Saints. (ed. Herbert Thurston, Liturgical Press, 1995) 1st ed. cir. 1952. If you are a Protestant charismatic and never thumbed through this work you are in for a big surprise. The Catholics saints of old did all of the same stuff we do, miraculous healings, exorcisms and “signs and wonders.” Some of you may doubt this because their theology may have been shaky. But holiness and the gifts of the Spirit can come through prevailing prayer and are not dependent on perfect theological correctness.
[5]A similar thing happened in the coal mines of Wales in 1903. The mine mules were commanded via curse words, but after revival swept the coal fields the miners stopped using curse words and the poor beasts did not understand plain commands.
[6]I wrote an aggadah play about Joseph and Mary, as the biblically described husband and wife, with several other children in the family called, “Joseph, ben Jacob, the Dreamer.” It is one of the two plays published in the anthology, Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Post-Scripts). (Self-published: 2017), available on Amazon.  I discuss the false Gospel of James in detail in the postscript to the play


Extra Pictures:







Announcements:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE   The publisher, Wipf and Stock will give you a better price on the print copy if you order direct from them HERE






This is  my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4

My latest published work is practical and evangelical: The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones. It can be purchased on Amazon as either a print copy or Kindle. HERE 







My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.


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My new book, The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones. It is now available on Amazon, see link below.  This is perhaps my easiest to read work, but I was not able to break the footnote habit. Please pray that God grant it an anointing to help bring in a large harvest of Nones and unchurched folks. Following is the introduction to the book:



Introduction:


“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.  Heal the sick who are
there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
– Luke 10:8-9

On a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, back in 1987, the first recorded public prayer station began at a pedestrian walkway and mini-park at “Little Five Points” in Atlanta, Georgia. Four prayer intercessors volunteered to go and do that experimental ministry. The place chosen had shade trees and a park bench, and was adjacent to a pizza shop. We intercessors brought along a repainted real estate sign on a wooden base, with the words “Prayer Station” in large red letters (see picture p. ?). Carolyn, my wife, and I stood next to the sign and began greeting the passers-by, “Hi, would you like prayer today for any intention or healing?”  The other two intercessors sat down at the bench a few yards from the sign, ready to come up and join in as needed.

That afternoon we prayed for over a dozen persons, with varied intentions such as new job opportunities, to healing from major diseases. An especially memorable prayer event happened as a group of four young women passed through. One was on crutches with her left leg in a cast from her toe to just below the knee, and I asked her what was the issue with her leg. “I broke my ankle playing tennis.” Her tone and expression showed disdain. I asked, “Does it hurt still?” “Some,” she answered. “How about some healing prayer on that leg?” I asked. “Sure, give it your best shot, preacher.” Again, in a sour and dismissive tone.

“OK, fine,” I said. Two intercessors from the bench joined us. I bent over and touched the cast at the ankle area, and the other two intercessors began praying also. I prayed using the command mode that is normative to the New Testament, but was uncommon and controversial at that time (discussed in detail in chapter 2). “In Jesus’ name, I speak to the ankle area.  I command every fractured bone to re-knit and be healed. I command all swelling to subside, and every muscle, tendon and the entire area to return to health and normality. I speak to the pain and command it to leave now – in Jesus’ name.”

The girl had a puzzled look.  I asked, “Less pain?”  She delayed and said, “No pain.”  I suggested, “Why don’t you try gently touching it to the ground.”  She did so and her look changed to astonishment. Without prompting she stepped harder, and then stomped on the ground.

“Wow! You guys are for real. It’s OK... no pain, nothing.  This is real!’  The other three girls looked on in amazement, and began smiling. The girl with the healed ankle repeated, “You guys are for real. Thank you, thank you! Oh thank you very much.”

They moved on, and about thirty minutes later came back, with some shopping bags full of stuff. I was praying with another person with a back problem and doing a leg extension (see chapter 2) and did not speak to them again, but they had a conversation with one of the other intercessors.  It turns out that the girl in the cast was a “preacher’s kid” from a denomination that did not believe in healing. She often ridiculed the TV healing evangelists as phonies and charlatans. Sadly, she had not been in any church for several years. So the Lord had just given her a lesson in the reality of healing prayer – and the Gospels.

On that first outing three persons were led to the Lord by our intercessor team. I personally led one. A young man came for prayer for a “broken heart.” He had just broken up with his girl-friend. Carolyn, who is a licensed counselor and especially good at inner healing prayer, prayed that the Lord would heal his emotions, and bring to him the person just right for him. I asked if he had accepted Jesus as Lord. The young man said, “No,” and further, “Yes,” he would like to receive Jesus as Lord and savior.  I led him through the sinner’s prayer. His demeanor turned to joy.  I reminded him to follow up and go back to his home church and read the Bible daily. He had not been in there for years, but promised he would.

These two cases that summer day show the promise and worth of the public prayer station ministry. It demonstrates the Gospel and brings the Kingdom of God via healing and prayer to persons who may not normally go to church. Of course persons who are church goers are also ministered to, but the salient issue here is that “Nones” (non-affiliated and non-church goers) can be effectively reached and touched by this ministry.



Two Public Prayer Station intercessors hot on the job. Yours truely on the right. 

Order The Public Prayer Sttion HERE as either a kindle or paperback.

Announcements:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE   The publisher, Wipf and Stock will give you a better price on the print copy if you order direct from them HERE






Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4





My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.








    

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