Song: "When Joseph Went to Bethlehem" Children's Songbook, p. 38
What kind of a person was Joseph? He is described as a "just or upright man" (Matt. 1:19). He must have also been kind-hearted and merciful, because he planned to "put [Mary] away privily" (Matt 1:18-19) with compassion instead of have her possibly stoned to death under the Law of Moses (Deut. 22:21) or at the very least have her reputation damaged if her condition was made public.
(Annunciation to Joseph, by Joseph Brickey)
Plus we know that he was close enough to the Spirit to receive revelation about what he should do in his predicament. He heard from the angel, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary they wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21).
One significant thing to note about this experience, is that Mary didn't reveal the sacred truth of the origin of her unborn child, which could have easily been justified in her situation. She "kept all these sayings in her heart" (Luke 2:19), meaning, she kept sacred things sacred, even when (as far as she could tell) her reputation and future were in jeopardy.
A father is responsible to teach correct principles to his children by example, Joseph was an example to Jesus of being spiritually sensitive and kind. Joseph hearkened to divine guidance through the ministrations of angels and by dreams. He protected Mary and Jesus by obeying the instructions from the angel in taking them away from the danger of Herod's army, and fleeing to Egypt, and then back to Nazareth when the danger passed. Joseph was a carpenter, and we know that Jesus followed the same occupation.
Joseph was a valiant servant of the Lord and the one chosen to watch over, protect, and raise the Savior of the World. Let's try to be obedient like Joseph in doing all the Lord commands us to do.
When Joseph and Mary walked around Bethlehem and realized there was no room at the inn, how do you think Joseph felt? His wife was pregnant and almost due; where would she be able to lay comfortably? Where could he lay their new baby? He probably saw the manger, and wanted to prepare it with soft straw.
How can we be like Joseph?
(Show manger). Does this manger look soft? We should be like Joseph and make it soft for the baby Jesus. (Show "straw"). Each piece of straw we put in the manger will represent one kind thing we do for someone between now and Christmas. The more kind things we do, the more straw there will be for the Baby Jesus. Then on Christmas Eve we'll put Baby Jesus in His little bed, and He'll sleep that night on a mattress made of love. I think He'd like that, don't you?
Other options: Read "The Last Straw" by Paula McDonald, or written out on this website, to introduce our manger service activity.
For a list of the rest of my Christmas Devotionals, see this post.