Lately, we've seen a remarkable (and welcomed!) surge in this country of patriotism. Yes, I know it is fashionable these days to attribute this rebirth to the tragic events of 9-11-01; however, I think it was there all the time in true Americans and our real friends. It is refreshing to see Old Glory proudly displayed and young people openly supporting the military services. I feel a genuine rise in emotion when I see fresh-faced, bright-as-a-new-penny young people in the uniform our our nation!
Lest we pop our buttons with these sentiments, let us not forget that currently we are calling on these wonderful young soldiers, sailors, Air Force servicemembers, and Marines to go to far-off places and place themselves in harm's way for the interests of America. What on earth can compel a young person --- who just weeks ago could not hang up clothes or keep their bedroom above the level of a biological disaster area --- to prepare their gear for a deployment inspection or stand at rigid attention for what seems like forever?! It's almost miraculous how Drill Sergeants, Basic Training, and Boot Camp can instill a sense of instant obedience to instructions and orders!
This strong sense of obedience and discipline is the underpinning of our soldiers and Marines in dangerous places like Afghanistan and the Philippines. Our Special Operations military epitomizes "Can Do" and "All the Way" and "Airborne" and "Air Assault!" When Special Ops is involved, there is NO question of obedience and mission focus! Even at the cost of their own lives, these sterling Americans pay any price for mission accomplishment.
In the Christmas story, there is another example of this kind of obedience and focus. I don't know why, but all too often Joseph, the earthly father of our Lord Jesus, is either left out or relegated to a small supporting role in all the happenings. That's tragic, for his example of obedience to God and commitment to the "mission" at hand are examples for all the ages!
Can you imagine a more difficult and costly circumstance than his? His beloved fiance is found "with child." He could have saved his pride by ceremonially and openly divorcing her. He could have thrown the whole problem onto Mary and found another young women with a good reputation. What he DID do was plan to "put Mary away" privately and absorb the criticism and hurt.
When he heard the instructions of God via the angel, he obeyed. He took Mary for his wife --- accepting the whispers and rumors and looks that doubtless came his way. He sacrificed his husbandly comforts and rights by waiting until after the child's birth for physical love.
Meditate on this brief passage and notice the simple, yet profound obedience evidenced by Joseph. He received the will of God, shouldered the responsibility to obey, and HE OBEYED! Why not ask God this week to make that your own purpose? I can think of no more worthy preparation to celebrate what Christmas really means!