Summary: This sermon examines how God uses Joseph to bring about the first Christmas.
4 advent 10
Joseph and the 1st Christmas
For some reason many find themselves struggling with anxiety 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.
Christmas music drowns out the cry of the baby in the manger. The message of God’s son is lost to parents whose children have grown up 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,” as one of the Christmas songs says is anything but wonderful.
Lets look at another thing Christmas forces to the surface.
Christmas also reminds us that our relationships to others are more important than anything else, because they should be viewed as a gift from God; even when those people tend to just bug the heck out of you. I remember reading one time a Peanuts cartoon where Lucy is in a conversation with Snoopy. 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 we are spending time with relatives at Christmas. You may want to hug them but they can bug the heck out of you.
Sometimes the situations we find ourselves in at Christmas can be downright hard to bear, like the one that Joseph went through on the first Christmas. Let me ask you this question, “what would you do in Joseph’s shoes?” I mean this story of Mary’s seems a bit far fetched, she conceives, goes to visit Elizabeth WITHOUT telling Joseph what happened to her and she comes back 5 months later and says, “the baby is by the Holy Spirit.” How believable is that story?
You see the Christmas story is one of faith and forgiveness. When we think about Christmas today, it’s so far removed from what the Christmas story is about that many of us are not even aware of what the spirit of Christmas is. We hear people talking about getting in the Christmas spirit as though Christmas is nothing more than us feeling good inside about giving and getting presents and telling one another Merry Christmas.
I do not want to know whether or not you are in the Christmas spirit. What I want to know today is do you have faith in Christmas. I’m not talking about do you believe in Christmas as you would ask a child do you believe in Santa Claus. To have faith in Christmas means, that you actually believe that God was so concerned about us as human beings, that God actually chose to become one of us, to talk clearly to us.
NOW Before you can have faith in Christmas, you have to have faith to believe that you actually matter to God. The God who created the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars, is actually interested in you and all your imperfections. You see you can’t read the bible story about Christmas without running into that word Savior. The only reason a savior being born is good news is that somebody needed to be saved. Let me illustrate it this way, if a fire truck came racing down the road and pulled in front of your house, nobody is going to shout the good news, “the fire truck has arrived” unless there is a ____________. Otherwise you’re left wondering, what are they doing here.
By the same token, the only reason for recognizing Christmas is that you have faith to believe that God decided to come and live among us as our savior. Now it’s interesting AND disappointing somewhat in looking at how God decided to come and live among us. Let me explain. First God didn’t let the world know, “I’m about to make my entrance, hello look at me.” He didn’t write it in the sky with some airplane.
Second, God didn’t choose the well known celebrities or powerful political leaders his day to have as his parents which could have given him a great platform to start His earthly ministry from.
Third, and this is the most important, God didn’t choose an easy transition to come through the lives of others. He put some people in some very difficult situations in order to come to this earth. Because when something is born from adversity and strife, it is far stronger.