Rev. Dr. Richard Morgan is a founder of the UsAgainstAlzheimer's Clergy Network, the author of the upcoming Leader's Guide for Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers. I am grateful to Dr. Morgan for sharing this beautiful and simple reminder to us all. - Trish
It is the Christmas season once again. Shoppers have already rushed the season with their purchases in malls and on-line. In a real way Bethlehem has become bedlam. Everyone is preoccupied with preparations, but amid all the tinsel and glitter, something is missing.
Did we forget someone at Christmas? So, we listen once more to Luke’s story of the nativity to answer this nagging question. Luke tells us that “Joseph also went up from Galilee to the city of David.” Joseph? He remains one of the most neglected characters in the Christmas story. He seems to stand beside the manger, playing only a cameo role.
Our attention is focused on Mary and the babe in the manger. Joseph is one of those decorative and seldom studied figures, who stands beside the new born baby.
A worried mother phones the church office in the afternoon before the Christmas play and said that her small son who was to play Joseph in the play, was sick and could not be present. The director said, ”Well, it’s too late to get another Joseph. We’ll just write him out of the script.” So we write Joseph out of the script. He remains a forgotten person at Christmas, silently present in the shadows.
Yet what an important role Joseph played in the early life of Jesus He supported Mary and married her, even though the child was not his. He was a non-anxious presence at the manger, and later led Mary and the young child to sanctuary in Egypt. Joseph was Jesus’ mentor during those silent years at Nazareth, training him in the carpentry trade and teaching him love of the Law.
Joseph reminds us to remember the forgotten people at Christmas. People who are alone at Christmas and eat lonely meals which stick in their throats; those who mourn the loss of loved ones, whose presence is acutely felt at this season. We need to remember other forgotten people - those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, often scandalized by our society, some warehoused in memory care facilities.
Also forgotten at Christmas are caregivers so overburdened in 36 hour a day care for loved ones, there is no time for themselves. Despite heroic efforts in research and clinical trials, there is still no cure and little hope. In a world where presents at Christmas hold such a dominant place, the best gift we can give is our presence for forgotten people.