How Far Does Christmas Go?

The study of the other main human involved in the Baby’s life
Is an example of a human becoming a willing instrument of God.
But he had to get past some things first.
His own humanity was first, followed by justice and righteousness.

It seems he got over any insult to his masculinity Mary’s being found with child caused.
He had a legal right to go public, accuse, and bring his betrothed to justice.
Yet, he choose to put himself aside and divorce her privately,
Not seeking public justice or concentrating on personal revenge.

A truly righteous man, yet still following the law as he knew it.
He was not going to marry her – their culture was very different from ours.
He was going to allow justice to take care of the obvious sin of his betrothed;
In the most compassionate way he knew.

Of course, we know, the angel’s visit took care of all that,
And the couple faced their culture’s wrath and whatever went with it.
He took her as his bride, and refrained from physical interaction.
There was no question – the child was of God.

So, what is it Joseph, this common man, carpenter, has to say to us?
Certainly righteousness is something to which all Believers are called.
The rules of the Ten Commandments, Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, and others
Gradually get internalized and become part of our inner being as we mature in God.

But outer righteousness is not the end all measure of all things.
It brings order to chaos when a society follows its precepts.
It tells us how to conduct ourselves in the presence of others and God.
But righteous alone fails to provide strength for long-term denial of a selfish nature.

The call of God overturned Joseph’s idea of righteousness.
And he chose to follow God’s idea, not his own or his culture’s.
He allowed God to enable him to endure and follow the new path.
A truly righteous man became God’s man of the hour.

When I teach kids, I talk about us asking Jesus to bring God into our lives,
And when God comes in, he changes us inside so we are ‘righteous.’
Otherwise, we can ‘be good’ when we try, but we always revert to our ‘me first’ ways.
Surprisingly, even young children understand their need to have God change them.

And that is what Christmas is about.
God with us. Jesus changing our approach to God – introducing us to His father.
That is the hope of the Christmas experience for us all – God with and in us.
And if we let God change us, we are propelled in new directions of hope and usefulness.

Inspired by devotions from Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin jr.

Matthew 1:18-19
Now, the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way:
His mother, Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came together, she was found to be with child – by the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband was a just man, but he was unwilling to put her to shame: so he resolved to divorce her quietly.
(Wangerin often uses his own paraphrase or translation.)

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