54 When he came to his hometown, he taught the people in their synagogue. They were surprised and said, “Where did he get this wisdom? Where did he get the power to work miracles? 55 Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? Aren’t James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? 56 And his sisters, aren’t they here with us? Where did this man get all this?”
(Matthew 13:54-56 Common English Bible)
These words open the book “Faithful: Christmas Through the Eyes of Joseph” by Adam Hamilton. It is the Bible Study for Advent in our congregation with groups meeting during Sunday school and also on Thursday evenings. It will also shape the worship services for the first four Sundays in December.
In the first week we will get to know Joseph the carpenter. The second week we will focus on the ancestry of Joseph and Jesus, and what influence Jesus’ family tree had on his ministry. In week three we will be challenged to be mindful of the needs of all God’s children, not only the children within our own families. Finally, we will turn to the journey of Joseph and his family to Bethlehem and explore how God is present with us when we face journeys that are challenging or difficult.
The story of Christmas is much more than the story of a birth of a baby. It is the story of God breaking into our lives, taking on human form to be with us in a strange and wonderful way. It is grace, love and mercy personified in the person of Jesus, both God and human.
As we go through these special days preparing for Christmas, keep yourself open to reaching out to others with the message of God’s love, especially children. Hamilton has dedicated his book with these words: “Dedicated to all of the children who are refugees and orphans in our world today. 100 percent of the royalties from this book will go to projects benefitting these children.” Perhaps you can find ways this season to also help such children as well.
Let us come home to Jesus and welcome him as Joseph did so long ago.