Summary: Christmas can be difficult and sometimes you just can’t wait until it is over. This sermon looks at the first Christmas through the eyes of Joseph and what it must have been like for him.
Maybe you can relate to this. I got this story from a friend of mine, and it tells the story of how the tradition of putting the angel of top of the tree began. When four of Santa’s elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones, Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule. Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her Mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more. When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows
where. More stress.
Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked, and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys. So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of hot chocolate. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hidden the chocolate, and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the hot chocolate pot, and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw end of the broom.
Just then the doorbell rang, and irritable Santa trudged to the door. He opened the door, and there was a little perky angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said, very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa Isn’t it a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?" And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.
You know most people get real excited when it comes to this time of year. It’s a time of joy and celebration. The family gets together and laughs about old times; gifts are exchanged, Santa comes and everybody is excited. It’s a time of joy. As the old song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yet at the same time, for others… Christmas is anything but joyous. In fact, Just as there are those who can’t wait for Christmas to get here, there are those who can’t wait for Christmas to be over.
We all have heard the statistics. More suicides happen in the holiday season than any other season. More alcohol is consumed in the month of December than any other month of the year. In the movie Christmas Vacation, the mother of the Griswold family spoke for a lot of people when she said, “What can I say, it’s Christmas and we are all miserable!” Christmas can be and is for many the most emotionally trying time of the year.
Perhaps its that way for you. Maybe you have all your family coming in for the holiday season and you don’t know how your going to feed and sleep them all? And you can’t wait for them to leave. Or Maybe you’re kids are away from home, and they are not able to be with you on Christmas day, so now you’ll be all alone. And it pains you when you see all the commercials with families celebrating the holidays together, it makes you tear up and wish that Jan 2 will hurry up and get here. Christmas for many is a difficult time of year.
Now to experience difficulty at Christmas is nothing new. This morning I want to look at just how difficult the events surrounding that first Christmas were for Joseph. Often we forget about Joseph as we come to the Christmas story, and if you are a father then you know what that is like. Everybody asks, “How’s the baby, how’s the momma doing?” No body ever thinks about the Dad. Well today I want us to look at Joseph the step father of Jesus, and see what Christmas was like for him.
Now it must have been difficult for Joseph first because he had to feel a sense of betrayal. Look at vs. 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.” Now we often tend to interpret this in our culture. That Mary and Joseph were high school sweet hearts, and that after Mary heard the news that she went to explain it Joseph saying, “The greatest thing happened to me today.”
But the Jewish culture of the 1st Century was much different than ours. In those days marriages were prearranged so its likely that even though Joseph and Mary came from a small town and knew each other, they didn’t know each other intimately. And they were in the betrothal period, which lasted about a year and could only be broken by a certificate of divorce. During this time, the two parties were rarely allowed to speak to each other unless their was some supervision. In fact, in Luke’s account we read that after the angel told Mary, she left and spent the next few months with her cousin Elizabeth. So it is more then likely that Joseph didn’t even find out that Mary was pregnant by Mary, but rather from a second hand source.