Summary: When Christmas is all over and done with, life will return to normal; what ever normal is these days but if you think that is hard for us, look at Mary and Joseph, after the Nativity, the part we choose to ignore with Roman soldiers and dead babies.
Title: The Christmas Blues, as witnessed by Joseph
Keywords: Joseph, Holy Innocents, “Christmas 1 Year A RCL”
Word Count: 2723
This sermon was delivered to St John's in Girvan and St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 29th December 2013: (both are Scottish Episcopal Churches in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
“Please join me in my prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen. (Ps. 19:14)
When Christmas is all over and done with, life will return to normal; what ever normal is these days but if you think that is hard for us, look at Mary and Joseph, after the Nativity, the part we choose to ignore with Roman soldiers and dead babies. Where do we find God's will in this?
Christmas this year is over, but the Christmas spirit is still with us. The tree and decorations are still up and we have the carols in our service; and for us in Scotland, we still have New Year to look forward to, although I will probably be going to my bed like most of us now.
What I am really trying to say is that when it is all over and done with, life will return to normal; what ever normal is these days but if you think that is hard for us, look at Mary and Joseph … who were at the very centre of Christmas.
They had a very bad start finding a horrible smelly stable in the first place, then the birth, then the star and then the angels and then shepherd’s et al.; … and dare I say, a story completely flogged to death. Yet we still listen and enjoy; we still focus on it, and cherish it … yet choosing to ignore the parts of that story, that followed.
We as Episcopalians or Anglicans, officially refer to it as “Low Sunday”, for others they refer to it as the Christmas blues; waiting, and the long wet January that is to come.
For Mary and Joseph it was worse, and we seldom hear a sermon about what happened to them AFTER Christmas, and I want to show you this through Joseph’s eyes. … Now, some people don’t consider Joseph to be a very important character in the Christmas story; in fact the Bible doesn’t record anything that Joseph ever said, and as such he is there, but ignored.
In the nativity scene for example, the emphasis is always on Jesus, and Mary, and the angels, and the Shepherds, and even the Wise Men; but Joseph had it own part to play; particularly as his life was about to be turned upside down and nothing for him too would ever be the same again.
Matthew 2:13 “When the wise men had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream”; ‘Get up, … take the child and his mother, … and flee to Egypt, … and remain there until I tell you;”
After the Wise Men’s visited, Mary & Joseph went to bed, but Joseph had a dream: (remember this was not the first dream he had had from the Lord, the last one told him of Mary’s forthcoming pregnancy and that he should support her), well this time the Lord was telling Joseph to flee to Egypt, because Herod was planning to kill Jesus. Now, there are several things I want us to look at here.
1. Joseph’s Obedience
The first is Joseph’s obedience, verse 14 says, “Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt”. Sounds simple enough, but if you think about it, Joseph recognised God’s voice, and acted on it immediately. Could we do that? Joseph didn’t waste any time, he got up in the middle of the night, he didn’t wait until morning … he woke Mary, convince her to move, pack all the bags for a long journey … with a new born baby, and head for Egypt.
There would be no shops open to gather provision, and setting out from a stable would be difficult, much more difficult than traveling to Bethlehem, a journey planned and executed with their friends and family. Mary and Joseph had no plans to move on ... in fact they were looking forward to returning home; especially after living in a stable.
Now, without a word to anyone, they are travelling to the foreign land of Egypt … a completely different country … with a different culture … and a different language.
And what about Josephs carpenter shop back in Nazareth … what would happen to that? … God said to Joseph to “move” and Joseph moved; he did not argue with God, he did not seek a second opinion from someone, he did not discuss the pros and cons, he moved and I think that is one of the reasons why God chose Joseph to be the step-father of Jesus; Joseph knew God’s voice, and when God said jump, Joseph jumped.