Christmas is Sunday. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are about to lose their minds over the presents under the tree. They’ve been scoping out which ones belong to them, shaking each package, and trying to guess what’s in them. Just like I did as a child.
Christmas has always held such magic. I remember waking up around 4:00 each Christmas morning, sneaking into my brother’s room, and trying to coerce him into getting up so we could go see what Santa had left for us. My brother, ever the practical one, just wanted to get a couple more hours of sleep, but I could usually convince him to get up with me. We would creep into the living room, turn on the light, and ooh and aah over all the goodies waiting for us.
Even as an adult, I love the excitement and adventure of Christmastime. I cherish the innocence of my kids as they check out their presents. This year, as we have scaled back on the chaos of the holiday season, the traditions we celebrate at Christmas have filled me with peace. I have reflected more on the birth of Christ and have been able to talk about that first Christmas with Vivienne and Jonah in more detail than ever before.
This past weekend I found myself reflecting on the goodness and faithfulness of Joseph. By all accounts, Joseph was an upstanding, religious man, pledged to be married to a girl named Mary. I can only imagine how he felt when she came to him and told him she was pregnant. I’m sure he was swept away in a current of many different emotions: hurt, disappointment, anger, betrayal. But he was also a good man who wanted no harm to come to Mary. Matthew 1:19 says that “because Joseph was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
Now, Joseph could have taken her to the temple. He could have shouted Mary’s betrayal from the rooftops. But he didn’t. He knew that this proclamation would be devastating to her, possibly even resulting in her death. Because he was a godly man, he decided to divorce her quietly so they could both go on with their lives.
But then an angel appeared to him in a dream, explaining that the baby Mary carried was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
“She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from his sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt at that moment? He must have had tremendous faith to believe that an actual angel had appeared to him in his dreams.
So here was Joseph, agreeing to be the adoptive father of the Son of God. Think about this for a moment. Reflect on Joseph’s faith, on his trust in the Heavenly Father. But more importantly, think about the Lord’s faith in Joseph. To trust him with His One and Only Son. God could have chosen anyone. But He chose Joseph. Wow.
The realization of Joseph’s status as Jesus’ adoptive father was the catalyst for my wanting to adopt a baby thirteen years ago. But when I first mentioned adoption to Peter, he was adamantly against it. He wanted no part in raising “someone else’s” child. Even as we began the process for an international adoption, he remained skeptical. After two failed adoptions, after all of our hope was gone, God performed a miracle in our family. He gave us Jonah. Peter was deployed when Jonah was born but when I first placed a two-month old Jonah in Peter’s arms, it was apparent that God had planned this moment for our family even before we could have fathomed it.
Now, I realize that Jonah is not the Son of God. But it takes tremendous faith to adopt a child. Frankly, it takes tremendous faith to raise any child, regardless of how they come into our lives. As parents, God entrusts us with raising our children. But ultimately, they belong to Him. And when we embrace this mindset, we can relate a little better to Joseph as he trusted the Lord with the Christ child.
On that first Christmas, Joseph received the perfect gift: a baby, born in a manger, entrusted to him by his Heavenly Father. And because of the faith portrayed by both Joseph and Mary, the world also received a perfect gift, for this baby would one day grow up and save us from our sins, if we only choose to believe in Him.
This year, as you celebrate the birth of Christ, as you give and receive gifts, take time to reflect on the most precious gift, Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas, my friends.