Jesus Christ, the Savior, the Messiah is the central focus of Christmas and the central focus of all eternity, past and future. But the story of His birth, God becoming flesh, has a number of important characters, one of them being Joseph.
Matthew chapter 1 tells his story: Joseph is engaged to be married to a sweet, beautiful, Godly young woman named Mary. One day she shares with him that an angel has appeared to tell her that she is to be the mother of Jesus, the Messiah. The conception will be a miracle from God. His reaction (the same as yours and mine would be): “Sure!”
But then the miracle inside Mary happens and God the Son is conceived. Now Joseph is in a real dilemma. He knows for sure that they have not consummated their relationship. He doesn’t want to believe that his beloved Mary has been unfaithful, but what other possibility is there? Soon she will be “showing” and everyone will assume they are fornicators, there would be shame and the families might even disown them; and the law gave the penalty as death.
But he loved Mary so very much and didn’t want to see her reputation ruined, or his. So, he decided to quietly end the engagement and send her away. Then the angel of the Lord appears to him and confirms what Mary had said. She was faithful and pure; she was a virgin. The child was conceived by a miracle of God. Go ahead and marry her the angel said. And when He’s born, don’t call Him Joseph Junior; call Him Jesus, Savior! (Perhaps Joseph even remembered Isaiah 7:14 at that point!)
But the dilemma continues. Okay, they’ll be married, but soon she will be showing and people will begin to count the months. “Hmmm, weren’t they just married last month and she’s already looking pregnant. Well, we all know what that means!” (People then were just like they are today!)
But Joseph believed; he and Mary were the only two people who actually knew they had not brought the baby into the world together. And Mary was the only person in the world to actually know that she was still pure and chaste. But they both believed God and yielded themselves unreservedly to His will and plan.
Of the rest of Joseph’s life, we know little. He married Mary; they went to Bethlehem to record the census and there Christ was born. Sometime later he took his little family to Egypt to protect them from evil Herod and when the danger was over, set up a home for them in Nazareth where he worked as a carpenter and apparently taught Jesus that trade.
When Jesus was 12-years-old, the family traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover (the story is told in Luke 2). And from then on, we know almost nothing of Joseph. He’s listed in the genealogy in Luke 3; in Luke 4, Mark 6, Matthew 13 and John 6 Jesus is referred to as the son of Joseph, the carpenter. And that’s it!
Most commentators feel that during Christ’s young adulthood, and after begetting other children Joseph probably died. That’s only speculation. But in Luke 2:52 we read that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
So, we can conclude that Joseph and Mary “raised Him right”. Besides learning the carpentry business and becoming Himself a carpenter, Jesus learned whatever other Jewish boys and girls learned in school; He also learned the Torah and Old Testament scriptures that He, Himself, had written! And, it is apparent that the parents had a positive effect on their Son (and other children).
We can only use our “sanctified imaginations” as to what Joseph thought, said and did with the Son God gave him to raise. But Michael Card, one of my favorite singers and songwriters sums up a lot of it in “Joseph’s Song”:
“How could it be, this baby in my arms, sleeping now, so peacefully, the Son of God, the angel said, how could it be?
“Lord, I know He’s not my own, not of my flesh, not of my bone. Still Father let this baby be the son of my love.
“Father, show me where I fit into this plan of yours. How can a man be father to the Son of God? Lord, for all my life I’ve been a simple carpenter; how can I raise a King? How can I raise a King?
“He looks so small, His face and hands so fair. And when He cries the sun just seems to disappear. But when He laughs, it shines again, how could it be?
“Father, show me how I fit into this plan of your…”
And God showed him!
Community Christmas Dinners
The 30th snnual Community Christmas Day Dinner will be held on Dec. 25 from noon-2 p.m. in St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 3301 U.S. 17 Bypass. Samaritan’s Feet will provide free shoes for ages preschool to high school.
Dinner will also be held at Belin Memorial United Methodist Church, 4182 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet from noon-3 p.m.
Meals are free for everyone! Meal delivery is available if you call (843) 781-1326 by Dec. 23.
Help spread the word! We expect at least 7,500 meals to be served. The event is made possible in part by a grant from the Chapin Foundation.
I love Christmas on the radio. A local Christian radio station (the Good News Network, out of Augusta) has a whole month of Christmas programing scheduled. From drama (Adventures in Odyssey Christmas Marathon, Adventures in the Snow, A Christmas Carol) to music for any ear: Buddy Greene’s Christmas Special, “Candlelight Carols from Moody Bible Institute, The Messiah and so on.
The programming is on now and depending on where you are around the Grand Strand you can usually pick up one of their stations: FM 91.7, 96.7 and/or 105.3. Go to www.gnnradio.org.
Human Trafficking Awareness
Mark your calendar for Jan. 10, 2019. On that date, Belin United Methodist Church, 4182 U.S. Business 17 in Murrells Inlet, will host a Human Trafficking Awareness Event from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
“Linking Together to Break the Chain” will include expert human trafficking speakers, pending ECU’s for First Responders and a silent auction. The event is sponsored by the Eastern Carolina Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the S.C. Human Trafficking Task Force.
Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry
■ The 10th annual Candlelight Remembrance Service will be held at the Aynor Cemetery tonight at 6 p.m. Come and light a candle to celebrate the life of your loved one.
■ Brown Swamp United Methodist Church, 4725 U.S. 501 W, says “Christmas is a season to thrive, not just survive”. And you are invited to thrive with them.
Sundays at 11 a.m. Calm and Bright Worship Series; Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. Advent Study: Wonder; Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. Choir Christmas Program and Supper; Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. Blue Christmas Service; and Christmas Eve at 5:30 p.m. Communion and Candlelight Worship Service. Phone (843) 365-3205 or go online to www.brownswampumc.org.
■ Bethlehem Baptist Church, 5201 S.C. 905, invites you to its Live Nativity Friday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
■ First United Methodist Church, 1001 Fifth Ave., announces these Christmas Events:
Candlelight Advent Concerts on Sundays at 4 p.m. in the Hut Chapel: this Sunday: Long Bay Symphony Brass Quintet. All concerts are free.
Also, this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The Glory of Christmas presented by the Chancel Choir and Wesley Treble Choir with members of the Long Bay Symphony.
■ Salem United Methodist Church, 2376 S.C. 90 invites you to One Starry Night, a Bible-times Christmas event for the entire family. Walk through Bethlehem and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Food and other activities will be on hand too. This will be held Saturday from 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
■ The Rock invites you to the following: Night of Worship, Conway Campus 1408 Mill Pond Road, Dec. 20 at 6:30. Then don’t miss The Big Wonder Roadshow: Conway Campus, Dec. 23 at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon, Dec. 24 at 4 p.m.; Coastal Campus, C3 Coffee Bar, 201 Graduate Road, Dec. 23 at 6 p.m.; Georgetown: Winyah Auditorium, 1200 Highmarket St., Dec. 22 at 6:30 p.m.; and Aynor High School, 201 Jordanville Road, on Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Go to www.christmasattherock.org.
■ Langston Baptist Church, 763 S.C. 905, announces the following and cordially invites you to each:
A Christmas event, Carols & Candlelight will be held on Dec. 23 at 6 p.m.
And don’t miss Evangelist Tyler Blue for one night, Jan. 12, 2019, from 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
■ Grace Christian Fellowship, 1223 S.C. 57 N. in Little River, will host a 17-week inductive Bible study on the books of I and II Thessalonians. This Precept Upon Precept study will be held each Monday from Jan. 14-May 19, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. Please purchase your workbook in advance. Contact Precept Leader Debbie Kiefer at (828) 400-9536 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ Conway Christian School is hosting its fourth annual HTC Tip-Off Classic Basketball Tournament this week on Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday. In addition to the home-standing Eagles of CCS, other teams will be Scotland Christian, Cathedral Academy, Laurence Manning, New Life Christian, Oceanside Collegiate, Socastee and Trinity Byrnes. phone the school at (843) 365-2005.
■ St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 3449 S.C. 65 will be distributing food on the second and fourth Fridays of each month from 11 a.m. until all food has been distributed.
■ Loris First United Methodist Church, 3507 Broad St., has a Blessing Box located on the Broad Street side. This box contains nonperishable food items and individuals in need are encouraged to come to the box. Also, if you would like to donate items, place them in the box.
■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris, has a food pantry on the third Saturday of each month from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.
Myrtle Beach/The Coast
■ Don’t miss the Christmas Bake Sale sponsored by the Ladies Philoptochos Society of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church. This annual event is held Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Enjoy Greek pastries and bread; baklava, kourambiethes, almond crescents, koulourakis and more.
The Church is located at 3301 33rd Ave. North. Phone (843) 448-3773.
■ St. Nicholas Orthodox Church is having its annual Cookie Sale! Yum! Yum! The church is located at 404 N. Maple St. in Myrtle Beach and the sale day is Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
There will be a wide variety of cookies and they are sold by the pound. You pick out what “fits your fancy” or “tingles your taste buds”. Phone (843) 283-2402.
■ The Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 17 Bypass in Surfside Beach, will host the monthly Faith Outreach Ministries free food distribution Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon. The morning includes social services assistance, free lunch and children’s activities. Phone (843) 267-2952.
■ Ocean View Baptist Church, 7300 N. Kings Hwy., invites you to its Christmas Eve Candlelight Services at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Phone (843) 449-3384 or go to www.ovbc.org.
■ Holy Lamb Lutheran Church (LCMS), 2541 Forestbrook Road, will have Christmas Eve Services at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.; Christmas Day Service at 9 a.m. and New Year’s Eve at 7 p.m. Phone (843) 236-1344.
n On Christmas Eve, Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2061 Glenns Bay Road in Surfside Beach, will have a Communion Service at 3 p.m.; then enjoy special music from 6:30 p.m.-7p.m. and Candlelight and Carols Service at 7 p.m. Phone (843) 650-0313.
■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea, 65th Ave. North and N. Kings Hwy., invites you to Friday night service at 7:30 p.m. (Kosher Oneg), Shabbat Service at 10 a.m. (Kosher Kiddush).
Also: Sunday and Hebrew School, 9:30 a.m.-noon. (Information? E-mail email@example.com.) No Sunday School on Dec. 23 or 30.
No Hebrew School on Dec. 19 and no classes on Dec. 26.
Current Second Nature Project: we are accepting comfort food items such as canned soups, mac n cheese, etc. to help both the Community Kitchen and Helping Hand. Place in the basket by the front door of the Rosen Center. All Mitzvoth greatly appreciated. Questions? Contact Karen Osborne at (843) 446-1060.
Temple Emanu-El Israel Tour with Rabbi Avi Perets will be held on March 21-April 1, 2019. Get information now.
■ Temple Shalom, 4023 Belle Terre Blvd., invites you to Shabbat services each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Phone (843) 903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.
■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, has just opened its Thrift Store which will be open each week, Thursday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy. and in so doing you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Phone (843) 236-1121.
■ Seaside Community Church, 10125 U.S. 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet (Inlet Square Mall), will host a supernatural Holy Ghost victory celebration presented by Miracle Deliverance Word Ministry. This will be held on Jan. 13, 2019, at 4 p.m. and speaker will be Pastor Tim McKenzie. Phone (843) 269-4802 or (843) 362-2614.
■ Calvary Christian School of Myrtle Beach will hold a charity golf tournament on Feb. 2 at Arrowhead Country Club, Burcale Road. Check-in will be held at 8 a.m. and a shotgun start begins at 10 a.m. Raffle tickets and mulligans will be sold.
Team entry fee if $400 and includes green and cart fees, door prizes, breakfast and lunch. There will be prizes for first, second and third place scores, longest drive, closest to the pin and a $5,000 hole in one prize. Contact Katie Hole at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 650-2829.