Read Matthew 1:18-25

Sometimes it is hard to tell Joseph apart from the shepherds.  More than once I have set up my nativity and noticed that Mary was alone with the baby and Joseph was off to the side with the shepherds.  What would the first Christmas looked like if Mary was alone with the baby Jesus? What if Joseph was no longer around?

After Mary returned from her stay with Elizabeth and Zechariah, Joseph found she was pregnant. I am sure Joseph was upset, but he did love Mary and he did not act rashly out of pride or hurt.  He acted deliberately, guided by justice and mercy.  If people found out that Mary was pregnant from another man both Joseph and Mary could of been charged as criminals or even be put to death!  Joseph did not want this to happen,  he wanted to do what was right by Mary and by God.  Even though it might of seemed harsh for Joseph to not marry Mary, he was doing what was best for her.

He had every right to publicly divorce her to clear his name. Before he did anything God stepped in through an angel and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. And in that dream Joseph learned Mary had not been unfaithful to him; he learned the true identity of Mary’s Son.
Because of the angel Joseph stayed with Mary and became Jesus’ legal guardian.  Joseph made a vow that he would love and protect Jesus as if he was his own son.

The course of history would of changed if Joseph decided to leave Mary, especially in her time of need.

In this Christmas season, fathers are reminded of the important role they play in the life of their children and families. Today we see so many children who might not have active father figures in their lives.  I feel lucky because I did have my father in my life (and still do).  In fact, Joseph reminds me a lot of my own father. He was a man who took did what he felt was right in God’s eyes. He was loving and supportive my entire life, he encouraged me in my faith even when I wanted to be a pastor.  Dad was a central and integral part of our Christmases and our lives. God grant all fathers to be the same for their families.

As a father myself, I love interacting with my children especially during this time of the year.  Even though my days are filled with getting the church ready for Christmas, I do spend as much time as I can telling my own children the Christmas story.  I take the time to keep the magic that is Christmas alive in our home (the “Santa effect”) as well as telling them the true meaning of Christmas (the “Jesus effect”).

This is why, I think Joseph is such an important figure for me in my nativity scene.  Joseph raised a son that was not his, he gave up so much to protect Jesus — I hope and pray that all fathers are as faithful to their children as Joseph was.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for choosing Joseph to be the foster father of Your Son. Thank You for sending the angel to assure Joseph of Your will in the life of Jesus. Bless all men to follow Jesus Christ our Lord in true faith that they may act in justice and mercy. Empower all fathers to step up to their responsibilities to the children You have entrusted to them. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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