Matthew 1:18-20a,24 – This is how the birth of Jesus Christ 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. 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. But after he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, in a dream…. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. (NIV)
Joseph, called upon by God to stand by his pregnant fiancée and then to raise a child not his own, has always been such an example to me.
True, it was God's son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and it was a real privilege to raise this child. Yet, what a tremendous and awesome responsibility it was, overseeing the care of the Saviour, the Messiah, Jesus. Yet Joseph, man of God, man of courage and love, accepted this responsibility with quiet grace and generosity of heart.
In today's world there are so many fatherless children. Some are orphaned through disease and hardships in Third World countries. Others are abandoned before birth, due to irresponsible or immature parental decisions. Many are victims of divorce, separation, or alcohol and drug abuse. Others stand alone this Christmas due to terrorist activities, which have sown fear and bewilderment into little ones' hearts and lives.
How might God be calling us as His children to embrace the fatherless, worldwide, this Christmas? How might a child's terror, loneliness, abandonment, poverty, or illness be alleviated just that much more, if our response to their need were met with the same kind of grace, generosity, courage, and love that Joseph revealed when God spoke to him?
Prayer: Father God, lover of little ones, open our eyes this Advent Season to see the needs of children around us. Enlarge our hearts and minds to be creative and generous in our love and response to them. And motivate us, through the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to have the courage to open our arms and homes, if necessary, to receive them. In Christ's name. Amen.