Christmas during a Family Crisis


The gospel writer Matthew goes to great lengths to trace Jesus’ heritage back to Abraham.  But then sets Jesus’ birth during a family crisis.  Mary is betrothed to Joseph, though she still lives with her parents.  Joseph will go to her home and take his wife to his home.  There will be dancing, singing, and feasting.

However, Joseph discovers that his bride is pregnant and he knows he is not the father.  Christmas still happens within the context of ordinary life.  Troubles do not take a holiday.  However, the angel of the Lord who spoke to Joseph in a dream had an important message for Joseph, and for us.  The child in Mary’s womb is from the Holy Spirit.  According to his name, Jesus, he is God’s Savior, even in times of crisis.  He is God with us.  He is the shepherd who walks through the valley of death’s shadow with us.  He is the one who bears his cross in order to sustain us in our cross bearing.

Joseph listened to the voice of the angel and took Mary, his wife, to his home and served as Jesus’ step-father.  He listened to the voice of God’s angel twice more, when he was warned to flee to Egypt with his family and again when he was told not to return to Bethlehem but to settle in Nazareth.

Joseph gets only one mention in the LSB hymnal.  It’s in stanza 14, the last stanza in hymn 517.

We sing our thanks for Joseph,

The guardian of our Lord,

Who faithfully taught Jesus

Through craft and deed and word.

Grant wisdom, Lord, and patience

To parents everywhere

Who guide and teach the children

Entrusted to their care

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