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Summary: The Advent season offers a unique opportunity to add vaue to your relationships. The first family modeled how to value relationships.

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Advent – Valuing Relationships

Matthew 1:18-25

Our goal this Advent Season is to go from Humbug to Hallelujah! For some reason many find themselves struggling with humbug feelings during the holiday season. There seem to be added stresses, pressures, hurts and frustrations. Holidays seem to magnify everyone for better and more often for worse. Psychologists tell us that Christmas is a time of intensified depression, conflict, and loneliness.

“Jingle Bells” drowns out the cry of the baby in the manger. The message of God’s son is lost to parents whose children have grown and moved on, leaving the parents far behind. The story of Joseph’s support of Mary doesn’t make sense to the women and men whose spouses have gone – whether by death or desertion. Like a biting winter wind, this “most wonderful time of the year” is anything but wonderful.

People who have a humbug feeling need to change to a hallelujah feeling. Years ago, late one Christmas Day, a resident of the posh community of Hillsborough, CA. accompanied by his wife and kids, set out to sin carols for the neighbors. As they were tuning up outside their first stop the lady of the house came to the door, looking distraught. “Look fella,” she said, “I’m too busy. The plumbing is on the blink, I can’t get anybody to fix it, and there’s a mob coming for dinner. If you really feel like singing carols, sing them someplace else.”

“Yes, Ma’am, replied Bing Crosby respectfully, as he herded his troop elsewhere.” (Robert strand, Moments for Christmas)

In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy says to Snoopy: “There are times when you really bug me, but I must admit there are also times when I feel like giving you a hug.” Snoopy replies: “That’s the way I am – huggable and buggable.” This is the situation many find themselves in when spending time with relatives at Christmas. Interpersonal relationships at Christmas are good reminders that relationships are more important than accomplishments.

Rick and Judy Armstrong had a hectic holiday schedule encompassing careers, teenagers, shopping, and all the required doings of the season. Realizing that she would be short of time, she had the stationer print their signature on their Christmas cards, instead of signing each one.

Soon they started getting cards from friends signed "The Modest Morrisons," "The Clever Clarks," and "The Successful Smiths." Then she discovered the stationer’s subtle mistake. She had mailed out a hundred cards neatly imprinted with "Happy Holidays from the Rich Armstrongs."

I’m sure they laughed their way through that mistake.

But sometimes, during this time of the year, when things do go wrong, it is easy to throw up our hands and say, “What is the use?”

It just seems to be too much.

Matthew 1:18-25 gives us the birth of Jesus as viewed by Joseph.

There were special qualities demonstrated by Joseph and Mary that qualified them to be chosen by God to be parents of the Messiah. Joseph valued his relationships with both God and his family. The same qualities we see in the life of Joseph are the qualities each of us also need to possess.

1. Joseph was selfless in his relationships.

Verse 19. “Joseph was determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.”

Joseph with his character quality of selflessness would be the kind of person you would enjoy being around. Joseph is the kind of person you would enjoy knowing as a friend.

Christmas is a time to value friendships. The joyful atmosphere of Christmas is a great time to reach out and touch friends and relatives.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Philemon a friend to tell him how much he valued his friendship. Philemon 4-7 New Living Bible

“I always thank God when I pray for you … because I keep hearing of your trust in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. You are generous because of your faith… I myself have gained much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because your kindness has so often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.”

Philemon was highly valued by Paul. Paul commended him for his trust, love, generosity, and kindness. Philemon was a refreshing person to be around, and Paul told him so.

Are you a refreshing person to be around? If you are a selfless person people enjoy being around you. If you are a constant complainer and a very draining person you don’t refresh people you deplete people emotionally.

In Window, Ladders and bridges, Dr. A. Dudley Dennison, Jr. writes:

“I believe in God’s master plan for the interaction of lives. He moves people in and out of each other’s lives, and each leaves his mark on the other. You find you are made up of bits and pieces of everyone who ever touched your life---you are more because of it, and you would be less if they had not touched you.”

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