Summary: The theme will be relationships. This worship experience will focus on our relationships with family and friends. The challenge will be to move from merely going through the activities of Christmas with our family and friends to knowing those we love on a
Last week we learned that the spirit of Christmas is relationships, beginning with our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Today we see that to have a merry Christmas involves relationships with people.
It seems that God screams this message to us every year through the writers of stories, songs, and movies. Yet we just don’t get it. Think about it for a moment. What is the primary message of the classic Dickens story, A Christmas Carol? What about the 1946 classic, It’s a Wonderful Life? Or, the 1947 classic, Miracle on 34th Street? And what would Christmas be without the recent hit by Newsong, The Christmas Shoes? They are all telling us the same thing. We need relationships.
Yet, relationships are hard. If everyone was as perfect as you and I, relationships would work out so much better. So, we must do the best we can with whom God has given us, beginning with our selves. How do we have better relationships? How can we have a wonderful Christmas in spite of those who may be attempting to sabotage our family gatherings?
Once again the biblical writers do not give us the information we’d like to have. How did Mary tell Joseph that she was pregnant? How did her parents respond? How did Joseph’s parents respond? What about her best friend? While we do not know how or when Mary told Joseph, we do know his response. Matthew tells us that he wanted to break off the engagement.
Matthew gives us some glimpses into the man, Joseph. They are glimpses that give us some hints at how we can take a rocky relationship and turn it into a good one. Take a look at verse 19.
19Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly.
Joseph was a just man.
Being a just man. That phrase says a lot about him. He was fair, understanding, yet, just. Joseph was concerned about justice. The legal thing to do was to stone Mary. However, Joseph tempered his sense of justice with grace and mercy. This verse shows us that he truly loved Mary. He wanted to do the right thing.
Joseph was willing to listen to God.
20As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
As absurd as Mary story sounded, Joseph needed a visit from an angel as well. Matthew tells the story from Joseph’s perspective. Luke tells it from Mary’s. Matthew doesn’t say anything about an angel visiting Mary. If we didn’t have Luke’s account of the story, we wouldn’t know about the angelic visit to Mary.
Now, just for a moment, forget about Luke’s story. Mary comes to Joseph and tells him, “I don’t know how, but I’m pregnant.” Let that sink in. Men, how would you respond? Anger. Hurt. Unbelief. I believe Joseph was doing more than merely considering all this before he fell asleep. He must have been devastated!
God didn’t tell him ahead of time. God let Joseph in on his plan after the plan had begun. God often does that, doesn’t he?
Joseph did what God wanted him to do.
24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife…
Everything within him wanted to run away from the problem. He wanted to escape from the issues. But God told him to marry Mary. God told him to raise a son that wasn’t his. Joseph was given the responsibility of raising the Messiah, the Anointed One of God.
Joseph did what other men and women who followed God did; they did what God wanted them to do in spite of their fears.
• Noah – build a boat
• Abraham – leave home
• Moses – deliver my people from Egypt
• Joshua – “Decide who you will worship. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
• Jeremiah – “I quit! No one listens! But I can’t stop speaking for the Lord, for his words are like a fire within me that can’t be put out.”
Joseph understood peer pressure. The custom would have been to break the engagement. The letter of the law was to stone Mary. I wonder what advice his dad gave him. What l did his best friend tell him? What counsel did his rabbi, pastor, give him?
Joseph and Mary learned that doing what God wants you to do doesn’t always make those around you happy. Being true to the person God created you to be at times will make those around you uncomfortable.
Let’s jump forward in time a few years. The best example is Jesus.
• Found in the Temple – “I must be about my Father’s business.”