Each year children’s pastors present the Christmas stories in fresh, exciting ways. Seeking to learn something new each year, we’re about to bust with excitement to share when the season comes. Deanna Cotton published The Christmas Story: Experience the Birth of Jesus Through Scripture Writing through iWrite Bible. Hot off the presses, a dear friend, my daughter, and I are taking this advent journey together. We read a passage, scribe the scripture, recite and memorize a favorite verse of the daily reading, respond in written prayer, write what the passage tells us about God’s character, followed by any questions or thoughts we have. It’s made for some wonderful conversations about these familiar people.

To scribe the scriptures, we’ve got to linger. So I listen to Christmas music low in the background and set to study each day. Starting the Christmas story in November teaching children’s Sunday school we’ve made some great discoveries about the scriptural depictions of the many, familiar people God used to bring Jesus from heaven to earth.

Zechariah – God met him at work, carrying on the ordinary tasks of an ordinary day in an extraordinary way. Keep doing the work. God is there.

Elizabeth – She’s loud! Everyone has that loud relative. “Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” I’m praying for my clergy couple friends and all the couples who are in ministry together. Those in the mission field together. Together they are mighty. Together they face challenges. Even in the place of personal disappointment (“But they had no children…”), they remained upright in the sight of God….and what a legacy!

Gabriel – His name means “God is good.” The news he brings is good. We find him in the Old Testament with Daniel and in the New Testament with Zechariah in the temple, and with Mary. Y’all! The news is good! Not news from the TV, phone, or paper. Good news: Do not be afraid, God is with us.

Mary – She is the eyewitness and the keeper of the treasured stories pondered in her heart. For us to know what happened at John’s naming, she would have been one of the only eyewitnesses for Dr. Luke to ‘carefully investigate”, so I’m thinking she stayed beyond the birthing. Would this have helped her when she delivered her own baby in a stable? One of my favorite Christmas songs is Mark Lowry’s Mary Did You Know. What did Mary know? Yeah, Gabriel told her she’d have a baby who would save the world, but what else? According to the Magnificat, she knew that God was mindful of her, interested, mighty, holy, and merciful, scattered the proud, lifted up the humble, and filled the hungry with good things. How did she know these things? I’m thinking her Mama and Daddy told her, talked to her, showed her, and reminded her that our Great God is all these things and more. Mamas and Daddies who love the Lord teach their children to love the Lord. They share their stories of God’s faithfulness, might, presence, provision, and love. Oh how I love and pray for my Mamas and Daddies to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength so their children know what a person sold out for Jesus looks like, sounds like, lives like. Tell the stories!

This week we study Joseph. Joseph was a good man. Mary’s recollection has him saying nothing in the scriptures, but makes sure we know that her man did what God told him to do to protect all that’s beautiful and to see his work through immediately, completely, and sweetly.

Nathan Clarkson wrote a poem in the middle of his book Good Man

What is a good man? I really want to know.
I’ve been searching and searching and got nothing to show.
What were we made for? Why are we here?
It’s got to be more than just how we appear.
Even if it is, we’re not doing that great.

Men today have become angry and given in to their hate.
We’ve become selfish and we take what we please.
“Don’t think of the consequences. That’s for the weak.”
We curse the wind and feed our pride,
completely ignoring the cancer inside.

We don’t need any help and won’t confess our sins.
“Real men don’t cry or let anyone in.”
Then some of us are just lost, looking for home.
But our dark is too thick, and we walk all alone.

But I need to believe that there’s got to be more.
‘Cause if God created us, there’s something He created us for.
Maybe we were made to be whole, honest, and true.
To protect all that’s beautiful and to see our work through.

To love with abandon and own our own scars.
To see real redemption take place in our hearts.
To laugh at the future and embrace all we can.
To know our Savior: Maybe that’s a good man.

So what is a good man?
Maybe it’s this:
One who lets his Creator tell him who he is.

Twenty-one good men I know will be getting this book for Christmas.

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses, and servant of the word.” Luke 1:1-2