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Summary: Couples, Pt. 8

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GOD’S CHOSEN PARENTS (MATTHEW 1:18-25)

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has kept track for many years the cost of raising a child through its survey of 12,880 families and 3,395 single-parent families on the cost of a child’s housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, child care, education and miscellaneous goods and services, but not including the parent’s time costs, forgone earnings and career opportunities. The estimated expenditure on a child in 1995 for a two-child middle-income couple that makes $33,700-56,700 (before tax) is $7,610 for a 0-2 year-old toddler to $8,710 for a 15-17 year-old teenager. http://www.usda.gov/cnpp/960401.pdf

The expenditure adjusted to 2003 with an annual 3.1% inflation concludes that a middle income married couple with two kids will likely spend $9,510-$10,500 on a child. More interestingly, USDA concludes that a child born in 2003 who will reach 17 in 2020 will likely cost lower income families that make below $25,700 a cool $172,370, middle income families making $25,700-54,800 an arm and a leg at $235,670, and the highest income families making over $54,800 a whopping $344,250! (Funds for a new house!) http://www.usda.gov/cnpp/Crc/crc2003.pdf

Joseph, like any young man his age, had dreams and ambitions of his own but willingly surrendered or relinquished his dreams for a higher calling – to be father of the Messiah. Joseph was the father figure in Jesus’ life but, more often, he was the forgotten important parent figure in Jesus’ life. In fact, he does not have a word to say or a conversation to share in the Bible. His presence at Jesus’ birth and the reception of the shepherds or the magi was not stated. Artists and Apocrypha writings have painted the picture of Joseph as an old man marrying the young Mary. It took a long time for scholars and historians to give Joseph his rightful credit.

Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, a religious-art specialist affiliated with Washington’s Georgetown University notes that early Christian art sometimes omitted Joseph from the Nativity. When present, “he’s either disinterested or separate, a doddering old man with a bald head or gray beard, a stock character,” she says. The Rev. Michael Morris, an expert in art and Catholic theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., says Joseph was occasionally painted sleeping through the event. This may have been a nod to his prophetic dreams, but Morris notes that even among Catholic clergy today, “if someone says he’s going to take a St. Joseph’s meditation, it jokingly means he’s taking a nap.” (“Father and Child,” Time 12/19/2005)

Mary’s name looms large in history and in the Bible, but not Joseph’s. Most commentators believe that Joseph had died by the time Jesus made his ministry debut. One can say Joseph did not live to see his dream and the angel’s proclamation come true. His dreams, however, were not as important as God’s role for him and God’s delight with him.

What kind of a father figure is God pleased with? What is the father’s role and responsibility in raising a child? What is one’s position, part and purpose in life? How can you rise to the occasion and fulfill your God-given potential?

Be Trustworthy in Disposition

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matt 1:18-19)

Holiday shopping is a $220 billion dollar industry. USA Today (12/6/04) revealed that the average consumer in 2004 will spend $541.03 on gifts - $406.52 on family gifts, $71.29 on friends and $22.12 on coworkers and others.

The National Retail Federation sponsors a survey interviewing 7,861 respondents on what gifts top their holiday lists (USA Today 12/14/04). 53% wants either books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games. 51% prefers clothing. 33% has an eye on consumer electronics. Home décor or furnishings is the fancy of 21%. Sporting goods or leisure items is the choice of 13%.

The truth is that riches, money and status had nothing to do with Christmas. God chose Joseph and Mary to be the parents of the Son of God for a reason. They were not perfect, sinless or angels but they were noble, moral and upright. Joseph, in particular, was a righteous man (v 19). God chose an outstanding citizen, a blameless man and a perfect gentleman to be Jesus’ father. Joseph stands in elite company in the New Testament, attested to be “righteous,” afforded such honor along with Jesus (Luke 23:47, Matt 27:19), John the Baptist (Mark 6:20) and his parents (Luke 1:6-7), Simeon (Luke 2:25), Joseph of Arimathea who buried Jesus (Luke 23:50) and Cornelius (Acts 10:22). Joseph had a heart of gold. He was good to the core, kind in his nature and held in high honor. As such, Joseph was a dependable, respected and hardworking man.

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