So Christmas is over for another year. The flurry and chaos has calmed. I love Christmas! It is a beautiful time of year, but it is also a time of sadness for so many as they think of loved ones who have passed on and are missing this year from the celebrations. Or others, who are watching loved ones suffering with illnesses or other trials.
On the run up to Christmas, people were brought to my mind who were in need of a card, or a call, and I was very aware of how I had totally failed this year in reaching out to a lot of people that I care about. As I sat down to write my Christmas cards it was again brought home to me as, with nearly every other name on my list, there was someone who I should have called with, sent a card to, arranged a coffee catch up, had over for dinner, and so it goes on. I confess it has been a theme with me in recent months. People on my mind that I knew I should reach out to in some way but I hadn’t got organised and made it happen. A list of “should do’s” that were never done. (Follow through has never been my strong point!) Good intentions all the way!
So I had been feeling a bit down on myself, when one morning I was reading in my Bible about Joseph of Arimathea.
“Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.” (Matthew 27 v57-60)
As I sat enjoying my hot cup of tea it struck me what a beautiful act this was. Joseph loved the Lord. He wanted to reach out and do something to show his love for the Lord Jesus. He was not intimidated. He went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. It cost him his reputation. He voluntarily gave what was to be his own tomb. It cost him financially. He wrapped the body in a clean linen cloth. It cost him in time and effort. We remember him for this act. We honour him. We can see his love for the Lord shining through.
And yet when we read in John 19.38 we see that “Joseph was a disciple of the Lord, but secretly, for fear of the Jews”. He wasn’t like Peter and the other disciples, who left all and followed the Lord so there was no doubt they were his disciples. Joseph was a man of high status. He had become convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah and believed on Him, but was afraid of the repercussions of letting everyone know where his affection lay.
But now…Jesus has died. Joseph knew what it was to have regrets. Did he wish he had publicly proclaimed his belief in Jesus. He had missed his chance. It was too late! Or was it?
Like a switch being flipped, Joseph goes into action. His Lord has died, but he would see that His body was given a fitting burial. He could do that. He would take care of it and in doing so his love shone for all to see.
Now I am not in anyway equating what Joseph did for the Lord to the small everyday things that I do in my life. But it did make me think. Joseph didn’t sit and brood on how he had failed. He didn’t give in to despair and feelings of his own worthlessness. There came an opportunity and he grasped it. He jumped in there and did what he could. He didn’t look back and dwell on his past failures – letting them bog him down, feeling too embarrassed to start to do something now, when he had missed chances before. He got his mind on the present. He saw the need. He knew he could meet the need. He determined to do it. And he did it!
There have been times when I have known that I should do something. But haven’t done it, or kept putting it off, until I was too embarrassed to do it as it was so late. But as I read about Joseph of Arimathea I am encouraged to just go do it. Perhaps I need to apologise to someone, or give someone a call, or send a card. It is never too late. We can be like Joseph.
Don’t look back and live in regret. Go forward into the New Year and determine to bless those around you in small, meaningful ways. Let your love shine through. I’m praying I can make it more than mere good intentions this year, and like Joseph, get up and do it!
Wishing you all a blessed and peaceful 2019