Joseph of Arimathaea

by the Rev. Charlie Dupree

As I write this Weekly Chapel (August 1), the church celebrates the feast of Joseph of Arimathaea.

Joseph was the guy who, after Jesus had been crucified, went to Pilate and asked if he could take down the body of Jesus. We learn in Luke’s gospel that Joseph was a “good and upright man, who had dissented from their policy and the action they had taken” regarding the verdict to crucify Jesus (Luke 23:50).

What do we learn from this feast day, and from Joseph – the person – it celebrates? I learn a lot from Joseph. If he were alive, I think we’d hang out.

Right now, though, as we are hearing a lot about powerful people in our national landscape, I learn a little bit about leadership. Joseph didn’t go along with the crowd. He had a different perspective. I also learn from Joseph that, in the end, he used that power to give Jesus a slightly more dignified death than would have been afforded him had Joseph not stepped up. After all, Joseph had to be pretty powerful to approach Pilate and make such a big ask, right? “May I have the body of Jesus, the man you crucified, so that I can do the right thing by him?” (my paraphrase).

It’s easy to think that Jesus was only surrounded by the weak and the poor. But Joseph is probably neither poor nor weak. In fact, he seems to be pretty confident and had some resources. The witness of Joseph is that he, too, was captivated by Jesus. “There’s something about this Jesus,” Joseph of Arimathea might have thought. Joseph is a witness that even the powerful were drawn into Jesus’s orbit of inclusivity, justice, and all-embracing love.

May God bless all of us, and our leaders – the weak ones and the powerful ones – with insight, knowledge, wisdom, and skill.

See you in church,

Charlie+ (he/him)