The Gospel story is written for a Jewish community and is one of only two gospels that talk about the birth – the other is Luke’s gospel. Interestingly Luke, the gentile, gives the most detailed account of the birth itself. Matthew’s account only looks at the interaction of God with Joseph. There is no interest in Mary’s encounters with God. This is because Jewish culture was patriarchal and the issues good and bad were always related through a masculine perspective. This is interesting because Joseph plays no other part in this gospel or any of the other gospel. So what can we take from this event? The importance is that God called Joseph as much as he called Mary. God called both of them to achieve his purpose.
We look at the letter to the Romans and see that God’s calling is not just for the special.
This is the introduction to the letter. Paul is introducing himself, announcing who the letter is for, and giving a blessing. This could have been done very simply, ‘From Paul, to the Roman’s, God‘s blessings to you.’ But it was the structure of the time to define yourself to the reader and define the reader as well. Paul could have listed his birth status, religious status, or any other point that would identify him to the reader, he chooses to refer to his calling by God and Jesus. He goes to great lengths to explain who this Jesus is, and what Jesus has done. When it comes to defining the reader, he could have talked about their relationship to him, but again he talks about their being called.
Why are we here? Because we believe? Because we are on roster? Because we were taught to come to church? Because we like the people? Maybe it is, and there may be some satisfaction in that, but I believe the greater joy is when we do it as an answer to a call. I don’t know whether it makes you feel better or worse to think that you are here because you were called, but I think it is the most exciting part of our faith. I think there is a peace and joy that comes on us as we make the choice to do that which we feel is a response to our faith. We may not use the word ‘calling’, but I believe it is.
Why will we be at church at Christmas? For me the real joy is to see Christmas as a time when we see ourselves as Joseph, Mary, Paul, the wisemen, the shepherds, the angels and the Romans. We come because we were called to be here. To see the child, bring our gift to the child, and to praise God for the child.