In my job as chaplain at Woodwinds Hospital, I get the privilege of having conversations with people almost on a daily basis about how they recognize Jesus Christ in their lives. A lot of people have seen God’s glory full of grace and truth somewhere in their lives. Strangely God’s grace and truth shines through brightest in some of the harder parts of life.
It was around the dinner table our last Christmas gathering, my sister shares the story of her kids and her Christmas most embarrassing moment. My sister carries the majority of the seven nine-year-olds with four of them being hers. It really is a blessing after many years of wanting to children, God blessed them with quadruplets—and they are four healthy and beautiful children. Much to be thankful for. But kids are kids, and we have all had moments that she shared from the Christmas when a dear friend brings gifts for each of the children, and upon opening the presents—the reply from all four was, “Is that all” while in the awkward pause “where’s the big gift?” That kind of sums it up, Is that all? All the anticipation, preparation, and we find ourselves hoping for something more? That’s it?
In our journeys—going to our families, our families visiting us—may we make room—As it was time—far away from home, Mary sought shelter. Along with many others who traveled for the census—having traveled myself with someone with child—it is not as efficient. There are more stops along the way. And as they rode in to Bethlehem—coming home, the need to find shelter was great, but there was no room. For Mary and Joseph, it didn’t go as planned. I can imagine the conversation, ‘Joseph, didn’t you call ahead?’
So often, the gift we need is so different than the gift we want. Shoot, if we left it up to our own hearts desire—it would kind of look like my Facebook feed. And my Facebook feed—well, it is need of being fed something different than its current eating habits. We too often find our patterns—our truth statements through a one dimensional lens. It is this, or that. In this one dimensional world, truth is reduced to absolute certainty.
Do you ever have moments where you find life is interrupted? These interruptions are life. We are surrounded by them. Turn on the evening news, or open the newspaper? Let us consider our own lives? Brokenness. Despite the vows, somewhere the marriage changed? You visit the Doctor hoping for something definitive only to be sent […]
But in Christ, there is another way. Our reading today encourages faith instead of apathy. It emphasizes hope instead of anxiety. At the quest of predicting, we are also reminded of the many times the disciples tried asking Christ for the details—when are you coming back? But Christ reframes the question.
Paul is appealing to the church in Corinth. I like that he sends someone else—he is going to talk to them about money. I get it…yeah, I am busy that day, so Rebecca—could you talk to the church about pledging? I only say this half joking. It is hard to talk about money. I have sat around many a table where the conversation went something like, “I quit going to church because every time I do go—the pastor is always talking about money.” To be fair—some of this criticism is well warranted. One of these stories is from one of my best friends who challenged his elders when they were talking again about a capital campaign. It was well understood that this was a formula—a way to keep membership engaged with something tangible. This particular capital improvement was to increase the size of the steeple. My friend challenged asking if there were better ways to be living out the mission of Christ—feeding the hungry—plus what was wrong with the steeple we have?” The response that he received was because the church across town built one that was taller.”
The script couldn’t be written better when we consider that we go from Incognito to the vulnerable and amazing witness of a kid named justice. From Incognito—wearing a mask, we find justice—righteousness. We can see this in the wise words of Justice Miller who didn’t get it at first…but he learns what it is all about sharing, “I went from being someone who cared about myself and my friends to caring about everyone.”