As we began the events that took place in our home this Christmas, stories began to emerge with every person who was here--a woman whose brother attempted suicide the night before; a single mom whose husband abused her daughter and she had to leave the state in which she lived to protect her daughter; an exhausted mom who hadn't slept in months because of her 3 babies under 5; a young teen who had been rejected by her parents and closed out of her home but who kept walking around our home saying, "It is so peaceful here," amidst the noise and conversation and getting food on the table; a woman who was just tired and exhausted and felt forgotten, a woman whose husband had cancer; two women who were vibrant and filled with hope and encouragement who prayed and encouraged those who needed an extra measure of love. And the stories go on.Jesus sees each of these precious ones and He sees you and cares for you and your concerns. Jesus came into the world because the people of the world desperately needed hope, comfort, forgiveness, wisdom, love. He was humble and meek--in other words, he came to slip right into the mundane, the normal people for whom He came. When he looked out to the multitudes, like those in my home, he felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9
He was a servant-king, he washed feet, held and blessed children, loved the downcast--the lepers, the prostitute; the poor; the sick, served meals, washed feet. He was a "man of sorrows, acquainted with grief" as we read in Isaiah.This was His message, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, And the vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting, so they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:1-3
Interestingly, when Jesus came to open his ministry in the temple, it is this very passage that He read. He was on a mission--he was here to heal, to save, to encourage, to proclaim God. When we love Jesus, we will be overcome with His compassion. Our words will be full of power and life-giving and hope. No one will leave our home without having a sense of His hand of love, His voice of truth, His comfort, His strength and calling.
But our homes are the arena in which we can build the life of Christ, and in which the life of our home becomes a sanctuary for those who need to feel His life by being welcomed, to receive a "cup" of cold water-- a home cooked meal, a focussed conversation, a healing touch. We celebrate the traditions of home, not because we want to be busier--no one needs that, but to make the life of Christ come alive, to show the beauty of God, to give our children an live picture of His beauty, His reality, His truth, His words and His outreaching love.
We still have this Christmas day to give Him our responsive gift of love--to serve and love and comfort and reflect His spirit alive to all who are in our arena--first our family and then those whom He has providentially placed there.
Homes are the foundations for society. When the life of Christ flourishes there, then the life of Christ will flourish in our nations. But we cannot imitate His life, unless we ourselves are spending time in His presence. The older I get, the more I love Him, the more I admire Him and understand the heart of this servant king, who humbly lived His life to pour out for the benefit of others because the very essence of His being was to redeem, to give, to serve.
And, so this is the source of our strength in tirelessly giving and serving, Christ in us, Christ giving us His strength, power and resurrection life, lived out through rocking of children and listening to their starry eyed wishes and stories and giving grace to the unlovely in our lives, because we are unlovely--but accepted; the making of meals served in grateful appreciation to Him who is preparing a future feast for us; the giving of our love and gracious words generously because He has so given to us.
When we spend time in His presence, we fall in love with Him more, and then the love spills over to our children, our husband and our friends. Jesus himself said, "He who follows me, from His innermost being shall flow springs of living water."His life, overflowing through us. Someone, many in your life today, need to feel this touch, these words of encouragement, this life, the actions that say, "The peace and grace of the Lord be with you--for He has given it to me and I, by His healing love, am so happy to give it to you."
May His life fill and fuel your days as we celebrate this week the magnificent reality of His life in the sanctuary of our sacred homes.
Some of my own beloveds, with whom I am celebrating His reality.
Sarah, Gwen, my sister friend, and Joy