The Lost Joseph
As lovely as Christmas is, the time comes to put away the decorations, take down the trees, and return to the challenges of the New Year. Recently I was taking down the Christmas decorations in the Junior Worship room at church. As part of the process, I gathered up the nativity figures and stable and put them in a plastic bag to take home. On the way out of church that day, a friend mentioned that someone had found a nativity figure, but I assured her that I had all the pieces for mine.
When I got home, I noticed that the Joseph figure was missing. I realized that my friend was correct. The found figure must have been mine. Later I learned that it had been turned in to one of the children’s rooms.
As I pondered how Joseph got moved and lost, I smiled. We had been studying integrity in Sunday school with the Old Testament Joseph as a main example. I have always thought that Mary’s Joseph was a man of integrity and obedience too, a righteous man ready to listen to God’s messages and direction. Instead of “divorcing Mary quietly,” he listened to the angel’s words assuring him that Mary’s child was of the Holy Spirit, and that she was yet a virgin. He became her protector, caring for her and the baby Jesus with love and integrity. Listening also to the Lord’s message in a dream, Joseph takes his young wife and Jesus to Egypt to avoid the killing of the babies ordered by Herod.
Some accuse the church today of being lacking in integrity. Rather than seeing the church as complete and undivided, they point to the large variety of different Christian churches. Rather than thinking that the church is morally sound, honest and upright, they see the church as being swayed by secular culture, vacillating on moral issues, sometimes even ignoring Biblical rules and directions. Is the church as good as its word? Is it heeding God’s Word?
While individual Christians can make these issues a matter of prayer, committing themselves to obeying Bible teaching, the issue of integrity in churches is not always easily understood and corrected.
Certainly the issue is not as completely solved as was the finding of the lost Joseph for my nativity. After a thorough search of the church children’s rooms, I found the missing Joseph under a table in the preschool room, none the worse for wear. Packed away with my Christmas décor, Joseph will be ready for another year of Christmas teaching. I still ponder the issue of integrity in the church, but pray frequently for God’s will to be done in our churches and in the world.