Ah, Christmas Eve.
I really think there are two types of people in this world: Christmas Eve people and Christmas day people, and I’m a Christmas Eve guy.
I love the anticipation of Christmas, almost more than I enjoy the day itself. There is just something magical about sitting around that night tricking yourself into believing every noise you hear is coming from the reindeer that just landed on your roof. (Seriously, it’s still kind of fun to do now. Don’t judge me.)
My family had a few Christmas Eve traditions as I was growing up.
One was ordering pizzas and Chinese food, but this ended abruptly after the great Xmas food poisoning of 2005. (I’ll save this tale, perhaps for a quality Christmas day post.)
Another was reading the story of Jesus’ birth. It was the one time of the year that giant coffee table Bible got some use.
Over the years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this story, and as I grown older, the more I’ve become increasingly fascinated with the role of Joseph. Perhaps it’s the part of me that likes side kicks in stories more than main characters. The part that would much rather learn about Doc Holliday, than Wyatt Earp. I’m not sure.
But what I am pretty sure of is sometimes Joesph doesn’t get enough credit for his role. I mean, most of the time the dude is simply cast as the guy leading the donkey and haggling with the innkeeper. Seriously, is it so crazy to think they could have had two donkeys?
Also often overlooked, is that long prior to the three-day trek to Bethlehem, Joseph wasn’t all that sure him and Mary were going to make as a couple. In fact, the Bible says that when he found out she was pregnant, he considered quietly divorcing her, so she wouldn’t be shamed.
Can you blame him? I mean, really? I’m by far not an expert when it comes to relationships, but I’ve broke it off with girls for a lot less than a mystery pregnancy.
Now we don’t know if Mary fully explained to him the deal or not, but even if she had, can you imagine that conversation?
Oh, so it wasn’t another guy, God did this? And you know this because an angel told you so? OK. (I feel like there’s a sketch in here about Joseph trying to explain the situation to his buddies at a bar. You’re welcome Saturday Night Live.)
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that would top out the crazy meter for me, so much so, I doubt I’d care for the break up to be a quiet one. I’d probably go with a more dramatic crowded cafeteria break up.
But Joseph was a far better dude than me, and after he too was visited by an angel, he started to see the big picture and his role in Jesus’ life.
Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, as predicted. Later, Joesph fled with his family to Egypt and eventually back to Nazareth, fulfilling a couple more prophecies about the coming Messiah.
Now we don’t know a lot more about Joseph’s role in Jesus’ life, but already he’d played a critical role in getting the ball rolling for God’s salvation plan.
I seriously doubt this is what Joseph had in mind when he thought about how he would spend the first couple years of his marriage. I doubt it was easy, and if nothing else, it required him to spend a lot more time walking in front of that donkey than I would imagine any man desires.
But Joseph saw the big picture, he saw that helping bring God’s son into the world, was also helping bring the world to God.
Joseph had his priorities in check, and because of this, he helped bring glory to God.
I’d also venture to guess Joseph was pretty stoked about all this, as he did marvel at what old Simeon said about Jesus when Jesus was presented to him.
We get a lot of curve balls thrown at us in life and a lot of times things just don’t pan out how we imagined.
That may be never more evident than around Christmas time, when if you’re like me, you spend all Christmas Eve dreaming up how great Christmas Day will be. The anticipation is good, but it really does raise the stakes on the day.
Sometimes it is great. Sometimes you wake up and see the Huffy Bandit under your tree.
Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you get Captain Planet figures instead of a GameBoy.
No matter what our situations are this Christmas, I think if we keep the big picture in mind and our priorities in check like Joesph did, we too can bring glory to God.
And that’s something we should be pretty stoked about. Merry Christmas and Happy birthday, Jesus!