Don’t be misled by the familiar ideas in the opening
Paragraph; there’s a pot of gold at the end of this piece.
Christians took over the ancient custom of swapping
gifts at Christmas from the earlier traditions of food swapping and
ceremonial gift giving. It soon became linked to the
offering of gifts to the baby by the wise men from the
East. So a huge part of Christmas celebrations now is
about gift swapping. To find deeper meanings in the first
Christmas story it’s worth looking not just at the giving,
but at the exchange of gifts. It’s worth considering Joseph’s
experience in this matter. He was entrusted with the
gift of the Son of God; Immanuel was to be with Joseph
and his wife. The One who had seen both of these
people being born was now in their hands. Joseph was
entrusted with this gift for at least the first twelve years
of Jesus’ life, and maybe longer.
But what did Joseph give back in return? Essentially he
gave himself, but perhaps it’s worth focusing on some
Joseph gave Jesus a human male role model. As Jesus
Grew, his image of manhood came from Joseph. He
watched how Joseph treated Mary, which was a
continuation of the kindness and strength he had shown her during
Joseph gave Jesus a human father figure; Jesus saw how
Joseph dealt with him and his brothers and sisters.
Joseph also gave Jesus a trade;. Jesus became a carpenter
because Joseph was a carpenter. So, Jesus would have
fashioned the wood and helped run the business until he was
Jesus went on to give these gifts to those he met. Why
were women so liberated in his presence? He gave
them honour, andtreated them with respect and radical
dignity. This is why women were amongst his most loyal
followers, being last at the cross, first at the tomb and
first to see him risen.
Why could Jesus so easily call God ‘Father’? In part
because Joseph had given his gift; because Joseph had
been a good human father, Jesus could reveal with ease
our Father in Heaven – a priceless gift to an orphaned world.
And Jesus, the tradesman and businessman, used his
background, range of skills and credibility to engage with
fishermen, tax collectors, awkward antagonists and
corrupt officials, winning many of them over.
Joseph received a great gift, gave gifts to Jesus and then Jesus
gave gifts to the world. So much for Joseph; his
experience was unique. Well, on one level it was but here is
God has entrusted us with the gift of his Son. The gifts
you give to him will be multiplied and given to the
world. If you give your humanity to him, others will
meet the real person of Jesus Christ. If you give your
parenting to him, your children will learn to call God
‘Father’. And because this is a work-related piece if you
give your work to him, your colleagues will meet hHim in their
work. People will not meet a carpenter through you
(unless you are a carpenter) but if you are a teacher
they will meet Jesus the teacher, if you’re in healthcare
they will meet Jesus the healer. If you’re in the arts they
will meet the Creator. Whatever you do, (taxi drivers,
lawyers and PA’s included) if you give it to him this
Christmas, he will give it to others so that they can
We don’t know whether Joseph lived to see his gifts
multiplied; it’s a great tribute to him that they were.
Some of your gifts will multiply long after you’re gone
because he will still be using them. There’s more to this
‘God with us’ than meets the eye. This email comes as a
gift to you, Happy Christmas.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus came about: His mother Mary was
pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together
she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not
want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce
her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him “Immanuel” which means, “God with us.” 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had
commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And
he gave him the name Jesus.
Luke 2:39-40 & 51-52
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the law
of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of
40 And the child grew and become strong; he was filled with
wWisdom and the grace of God was upon him.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to
them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God
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