I write this message on “Giving Tuesday”, which follows the mad rush of Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. I write this after being reminded on Christian radio to remember the persecuted Church in Sudan, which rarely makes the news anymore, though a large group of wicked men seek to wipe out Christianity in that country. I write on a laptop, with a sense of disconnectedness from the sufferings that characterized most generations of Christianity throughout the world for two millennia. There’s almost a feeling of loss as I consider:
1 Corinthians 12:26-27, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
I think about many of the “traditional” elements of Christmas season in our culture, and I tremble as it seems so unrelated to the first celebration, and more like the Pharisaical Jewish traditions that Jesus denounced. What am I to denounce in my surrounding culture? What parts can I urge others to celebrate? How am I supposed to lead God’s people in my church through the cultural holiday muck?
Then I think about “Foster Day” & “Adoption Day”. The first day we met our little girl, over 2 years ago, we knew a lot more about her than she did about us, but meeting the little bundle of wild energy brought in a completely different set of knowledge! As she was rolling around and doing headstands on the couch, for me, it was like coaxing a frightened, hungry, and wary little kitten out of her hiding place with a little food. It was not long after that we discovered her insatiable appetite for attention, as we worked these two years to develop trust, healthy forms of attachment, and other parts that are lacking.
Tomorrow is “Adoption Day”, when the promises of a “forever family” are recognized in a legal fashion. Oaths will be taken, and the judge will declare it so with verbal and written confirmation, and our little girl will take on our last name! We had been caring for her, but higher forms of guardianship and responsibilities are thus recognized.
I think of the Incarnation, or “Christmas”, when the Creator, Sustainer, and Guardian of the Universe took on flesh to meet those He professed to love, face to face, on a level they could see and touch! What was once understood by some through faith, then became sight, and the compassionate love of God could be understood though personal example. There was keen, yet wary interest by many, but a few came to know this One intimately. He encountered constant rejection after His loving advances, but stayed the course, and made it so that those who were “once far away have been brought near” (Eph 2:13). Because of His faithful work, we are beneficiaries as His adopted children (Romans 8:23) and “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17), and we can even call our Savior, our “brother”! (Romans 8:29) NONE of this is based on our own merit, but rather, our adopted Father’s work!
This is Christmas: The Miracle of Divine Meeting – and we are again given the privileged option of contemplating the awesome Adoption another year, through the intentional path of suffering love. Through this love I am given the opportunity to reach out my hand to another brother and sister in Christ as a mutual child of our Heavenly Father. I can also declare my Father’s Love to those who could potentially join our eternal, “blended” family! The promises are clear:
John 1:12-14 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
1 John 3:1-2 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!...Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Contemplate the awesome mystery with us this Christmas!