The Other Christmas Story

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. – Matthew 1:18-25

You may know the Luke 2 version of the Christmas story. In fact many have memorized those 20 verses – possibly from the King James Version of the Bible, replete with such prosaic phrases as “great with child, sore afraid, and she should be delivered.” The Matthew text focuses on Jospeh’s part in this story – a facet that offers us all an opportunity to reflect on the request Michael Card makes in his song, “Father show me how I fit into this plan of yours.”

I look forward to sharing that request and offering some hopefully-edifying insights to it today. For it’s a worthy request of all of us. Some may ask, “What does that have to do with me?” In fact many today ask it – if they even acknowledge it in the first place. The message of God’s Son being born is to them fable, fairy tail, or simply blatantly false. The only issue to them is why people make so much of it. It’s OK for those who find meaning in it, but it means nothing to them. I don’t have much of an answer to them; until they stumble upon their own inability to handle life and save themselves this will mean little.

But those who know their own limits will embrace this story gladly. For it speaks of fear, faith, courage, hope and salvation. It speaks of integrity and obedience. And it speaks of a Savior: Jesus.

Joseph took Mary into his home, but remained celibate with her until after the child was born, and gave him the name Jesus. In those few words we learn that a life of obedient faith and faithful obedience puts us in places of great blessing for others. Such a life comes from embracing the blessing of God in his Son, the one who has saved his people from their sins. Whether saint or sinner, we all have a place in this story. And those who recognize that by faith in Jesus we are both saint and sinner will embrace Jesus’ salvation and his calling to be part of this story – however we may.

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