I think I know something about the Christmas story you don’t. But, you’ll have to wait for me to get there.
We start Christmas in our family the moment the Thanksgiving turkey disappears from our plates, and one of my favorite traditions is working through a long list of Christmas movies.
A favorite is any variation of the story of the Ebeneezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim tale called a Christmas Carol. The new computer animated version was the first movie I watched this year, and a single phrase leaped out at me: “He knew how to keep Christmas well.”
I’ve heard how people enjoy, look forward to, and even miss Christmas when it’s over, but I’d never thought about “keeping” Christmas.
So, where is the bit about something I know of the Christmas story that you don’t? Patience, it’s coming.
This leads us to Joseph, not from the Charles Dickens novel, but a character from a much older book: the Bible.
The Joseph I am speaking of is the man from THE Christmas story: the carpenter, the husband of Mary, the stepdad to Jesus. Yeah, that Joseph.
He holds a monumentally significant role in the Christmas story.
First, he was chosen by God to raise the Son of God. What must that background check have been like to make the cut and be picked for team Savior?
Second, he was able to wrestle through the cultural embarrassment of a fiancé who showed up pregnant and claimed the Father was God. Instead of dropping her like a telemarketer’s call at dinner, he responded with gentleness and courage simply because God told him to in a dream.
Third, three kings show up at his door to bring his stepson gifts. But, when that same night God warned him again to take his family to Egypt and keep them safe, he hit the road. Left friends, family, job, everything familiar to take care of that little Boy and His mother.
Fourth, he spent the hard years digging it out and providing for Jesus, helping Him grow up, and teaching Him to become a man. Even as Jesus got left behind at the Temple, it’s a reminder that Joseph took the reigns of spiritually leading his family as Luke 2:41 says, “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.”
You’re probably ready to interrupt saying, “Yes we knew all of this. I thought you said you knew something we all didn’t?”
You’re right, here it is.
Were you aware that in all of these stories, over all of these years service, through numerous interactions that Joseph… is silent.
It’s true. Go back and look at every story. The Bible never records a single spoken work from this epic character.
Mary speaks to him.
Angels speak to him.
The Lord speaks to him.
But, Joseph never says a word. He simply lets his actions speak for his life and heart.
Matthew 1:24 says, “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”
That’s just how Joseph rolls… a man of action.
I think this is the essence of “keeping Christmas.”
Feelings are good, and words do mean something. But, “keeping Christmas” is about what we do.
What forgiveness can you offer? What sacrifice can you make? What joy can you share? In what way can you go past the words and feelings and begin the practice of “keeping Christmas.”
Merry Christmas to you and yours, and many blessings to you as we “keep Christmas.”
Special thank you to the Hutchinson News for printing this in the Faith section December 9, 2017.