Summary: Exposition of Matt. 2:13-23

When Christmas Isn’t Picture Perfect

Matt. 2:13-23

Every year I read this fictional Christmas correspondence between Martha Stewart and Erma Bombeck to remind me that Christmas isn’t always picture perfect.

Hi Erma, This perfectly delightful note is being sent on paper I made myself to tell you what I have been up to. Since it snowed last night, I got up early and made a sled with old barn wood and a glue gun. I hand painted it in gold leaf, got out my loom, and made a blanket in peaches and mauves. Now it’s time to start making the place mats and napkins for my 20 breakfast guests. I’m serving the old standard Stewart 12-course breakfast, but I didn’t have time to make the tables and chairs this morning, so I used the ones I already had. I did take time to make the dishes to use for breakfast from Hungarian clay, which you can get at almost any Hungarian craft store. Well, I must run. I need to finish the buttonholes on the dress I’m wearing for breakfast. I’ll get out the sled and drive this note to the post office as soon as the glue dries on the envelope I’ll be making.- Love, Martha Stewart

Response from Erma Bombeck:

Dear Martha,

I’m writing this on the back of an old shopping list, pay no attention to the coffee and jelly stains. I’m 20 minutes late getting my daughter up for school, packing a lunch with one hand, on the phone with the dog pound, seems old Ruff needs bailing out, again. Burnt my arm on the curling iron when I was trying to make those cute curly fries. Still can’t find the scissors to cut out some snowflakes, tried using an old disposable razor…trashed the tablecloth. Tried that cranberry thing, frozen cranberries mushed up after I defrosted them in the microwave. Oh, and don’t use Fruity Pebbles as a substitute in that Rice Krispie snowball recipe, unless you happen to like a disgusting shade of green! The smoke alarm is going off, talk to ya later.- Love, Erma

I don’t know anybody who enjoys the Martha Stewart picture perfect Christmas. Kids get sick, people lose their jobs, people even die. Trouble doesn’t take a holiday even at Christmas. That shouldn’t surprise us: even the first Christmas wasn’t picture perfect . In the midst of all the miracles and joy, there were a lot of hasslse, and a lot of hurting. Look with me in Matt. 2:13-23 and let’s see the hassles, the hurting, and the hope of Christmas.



What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer…? If I could work my will…every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. ”

Charles Dickens put those words in the mouth of Ebenezer Scrooge but I’ve seen people who also complain about the hassles of Christmas.

Christmas costs too much, too much time in shopping and decorating, too much stress trying to get everything done. But don’t feel bad—it was a hassle for Joseph and Mary, too.

The first hassle was Mary’s pregnancy. Joseph and Mary were betrothed, but not officially married. Joseph was ready to call the whole thing off until an angel explained the situation. Would Joseph have liked the angel to explain the situation to mom & dad and the rest of the family? Imagine the hassle Mary endured as an unwed mother, the hassle of a wedding, the whispers and guessing: why Joseph would do such a thing, or who would of thought such a thing of a nice girl like Mary?

But the hassles are just beginning. Not long after the wedding the Emperor every male Israelite to return to their birthplace and pay a new tax---a bill Joseph hadn’t planed on paying, a trip he hadn’t planed on making. His bride is ready to give birth, now this extra expense and trip they need to take (do hassles of Christmas bills and Christmas trips sound familiar?)

Joseph scrounges up the money, they head out for Bethlehem, where they meet another hassle: no room in the inn. With a wife about to give birth, Joseph settles for the only accommodations available: a stable. In that dirty stable surrounded by stinking animals, without a doctor, without a nurse, without an epidural, Mary gives birth and everything is OK.

But not for long. V. 13 records after Jesus is born, an angel brings a message to Joseph: Take Mary and the baby to Egypt. King Herod is going to try to murder the baby.

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Steven Osborne

commented on Nov 27, 2007

Wonderful intro and great mixture of truth w/laughter. Thanks.

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