Summary: The Christmas Touch - part 2 Learning from the example of Joseph.
Advent: Christmastime is family time. It’s true at your home. It’s true here, too. And this morning we gather as the family of God. Sisters and brothers, children of faith, old, young, knowledgeable and not as informed, each with rough edges in the process of being sanded down. The Lord has a hand on each of us, pointing out our failures and holding us securely in His grasp. As we sing the songs of the season, look around at your spiritual siblings. Thank the Lord for them. Thank the Lord for what He is doing in their lives. Thank Him that He is still at work within you. Thank Him that as His family we have a definable context in which we can reach out and touch in loving ways the world He came to die for. Let’s worship Him this morning as His grateful family.
+ Matthew 1:18-25 (quickview)  18This 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. 19Because 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. 20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." 24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (NIV)
(Light the first two candles.) Last week we saw how through the example of the innkeeper how we can reach out to our neighbors and share the Christmas touch. This morning, we light the Joseph candle alongside the innkeeper’s. Josephfs patient and protective love calls us to look at our family struggles through new eyes. Lord, as we see these fragile flames flicker before us, may we be reminded of the imperfect people around us in our immediate, extended, and even in our church family who are weak, vulnerable and need to be protected and affirmed. Help us to learn from Josephfs example to love our families with an unfailing love. Amen.
✎ I heard an interesting news item this week. According to the US Government it will now cost $160,140 for the average middle class American family to raise a child to the age 18. If you are quick on the draw with your math facts you just estimated what it may cost you to raise your children. For Susie and I, if the estimates are correct, it will cost us around $800,000 to raise our 5 kids, and that doesnft include college! We could be over one million dollars if you were to add college costs for our five kids.