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The Forgotten Man of Christmas


One of our family traditions is to read the Christmas story with our family before we open presents on Christmas morning. As we read the story from Matthew and Luke, our children divide up the characters in our nativity scene and put the figures in place as they appear in the narrative.

Nativity scenes are interesting. They vary in size and cost. The most elaborate one I’ve seen was in a shop in Jerusalem. Each figure stood about 10″ high and was carved out of olive wood. If memory serves, the pricetag was around $1,500.00.

Think about your nativity scene for a moment. Flanking the manger on one side are the shepherds. They are rugged and romantic characters who would be cast in Hollywoood by guys like Matthew McConaughey. On the other flank are the wise men. They are sophisticated and digified, holding the gifts that in all likelihood were used to finance Jesus’ two years in Egypt. Around the front edge of the setting are barnyard animals. Sheep, goats, perhaps a cow. They calmly lounge there like domesticated pets. Your nativity may have an angel, full of elegance and grace, serving as a tangible reminder of God’s superintendence of the whole event. Next to the manger is the virgin Mary. She looks so peaceful and mature one can hardly believe she was no more than 14 years old at the time. At center stage is the baby Jesus, lying in that feeding trough. He is the centerpiece, appropriately so.

Finally there is Joseph. Now Joseph is a curious figure. He’s the husband, but not the father. He’s always added to the scene, although we sometimes wonder what he really brings to the table. It’s as if he’s an after thought whose presence merely brings some kind of symmetry to the setting. If you read the Bible carefully, you’ll find that Joseph is not attributed with a single spoken word. He’s a thinker and a doer. The strong silent type if you will. But in all honesty, he’s kind of the forgotten man of Christmas.

If Joseph were to speak to us today from his experiences on that first Christmas Day, what would he say? That’s the topic of this week’s series of posts.

Categories : Advent, Christmas

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