When you pastor the same church for nearly 24 years, you can’t get away with, what we ministers call, “recycled sermons.”
Television would call them reruns, and God might call it being lazy.
The Lord has never let me down in providing fresh perspectives of Jesus' treasured birth story. This year hasn't been different, as I have followed the theme “Christmas is not canceled.”
The other night, I was wide awake around 4:30 a.m. because of medication to help my never-ending sinus issues, when God opened the Scriptures to me again. I thought about Joseph, who might be the forgotten man in the Christmas story, and yet, this miracle doesn’t happen unless he signs off on the manuscript.
Joseph was a righteous kind of guy, and for him to truly follow heaven's instructions, he would have to risk being excommunicated by the religious rulers on Earth. For him to be held on high esteem in glory, he would have to exercise his right to total humility and embarrassment in the goings on of this planet. It couldn’t have been easy, and it was far from just lighting a candle, singing a song and going on his merry way.
My dad was like Joseph. I grew up in a unique family, where beyond the seven biological children God gave them, my parents legally adopted 30 more. Whether that was a totally wise move is for discussion on another day, but the point I want to make is a perfect tie-in.
The local media, churches, neighbors, and pretty much everyone else would always hold my mom as a champion, sacrificial servant and saint.
Mom was an amazing individual. I am not here to argue that, but she could not have pulled off what the Lord called her to do without my dad. He was as an essential ingredient to the miracle mix as she was. Unfortunately, there were times where my father was assigned the back seat of the family bandwagon.
One particular day, when the New York Daily News came to Peapack to take a photo of my mom and the family because she was announced as their “Mother of the Year,” the oldest son did not stay quiet. The photographer was placing everyone in the ideal pose when the reporter mentioned to my father that he wouldn’t be needed in the shot.
Out of nowhere, I objected loudly, saying, “Hey, there would be no Mother of the Year without the presence of the dad of every day. If he is not in this photo, neither am I.” If you look through the archive of that photo, there are no Rudy’s in the mix. I just wanted my pop to be recognized for all that he contributed to the process.
The other night, I felt the same way about Joseph. Mary was awesome. She was only a teenager when she agreed to be the Son of God's mother, but Joseph was also a VIP in the nativity, so I wrote a tribute the one I refer to as “the man behind the scenes.”
A Song for Joseph
You’re the man behind the scenes - the one beneath the star, and sometimes you’re forgotten here, but I know who you are.
Such a heart of humble strength and one of simple means,
I thank the Lord for the part you played, as the man behind the scenes.
Most men want the spotlight, they long to make their stand.
They brag about the things they’ll do and boast about their plan, but you obeyed God’s voice, and the world turned upside down.
No longer just a carpenter when heaven came around.
Most men long for power, and they so want to be known.
Fame and glory fuel their dreams and all that they can own, but you gave God your life, and it stopped you in your track
Mary, Jesus and the road, you never did look back.
Every day, God gives us a choice to make.
Who gets the applause defines what path we take.
This Christmas, don’t look to be the star. Be content to follow it.
This Christmas, don’t miss the angels singing the song of the Savior. We are at our best when we simply are content with pleasing God. Mary said, “let it be,” but don’t ignore that Joseph wasn’t about to sing, “I did it my way,” and neither should we.
ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.