by Joe Alain

When Christmas Changes Your Plans
Joe Alain
Matthew 1:18-25

His name means "he shall add," yet Joseph is often the person who is subtracted from the Christmas story. We are familiar with Mary, the shepherds, and of course the wise men, but Joseph is kept hidden almost out of sight and definitely out of mind. Like a wayward relative in the family that no one dares talk about at family "get togethers, so Joseph is hardly mentioned in the Christmas narratives of the Bible.

Yet Joseph plays a very important role in story of Christmas. Joseph was chosen for a special task that not just anyone could do. Not everyone could raise a son that was not his own and conceived under such unusual circumstances. Not everyone could bear the looks from the people in town who certainly talked about Joseph and Mary's situation. Not everyone could say "yes" to something that made absolutely no earthly sense. Not everyone could deal with the tragedy of making plans and then seeing those plans completely change.

But Joseph did. Although he didn't fully understand what God was doing he trusted the Lord in the darkness knowing God would bring him into the light. And that is what makes Joseph's character stand out He walked a lonely path but he was not alone. He walked with the Lord even though he couldn't see all that God was doing. And when his plans were changed he accepted this and submitted his will to the will of God. Joseph allowed Christmas to change his plans.

A Betrothal Broken?
The story begins with a statement by Matthew that tells us that "Mary was betrothed to Joseph" (1:18). The NIV translates the word as "pledged." Betrothal was a mutual promise or contract for a future marriage (Deut.20:7; Jer.2:2; Lk.1:27). It was confirmed by oaths and was accompanied with presents to the bride and often to the bride's parents. The betrothal was celebrated by a feast. In some instances, it was customary for the bridegroom to place a ring, a token of love and commitment, on ...

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