All in the Family

vote-for-loveIn other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” – 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 (CEB)

 

Several years ago, I was preaching during Advent about family. For the children’s message I brought in a manger as well as Joseph and Mary, Santa Claus, and some wise men. I also brought pictures of shepherds and refugees – and President Obama and Governor Scott Walker. One-by-one, I invited the kids to pick one of the items and place it in the manger. We talked about how these people were all different.

obama-with-dogscott-walker-readingWhen we got to the picture of President Obama and Governor Walker, I asked the kids if they could be in the manger together. Most of the kids were pretty little – but their parents knew who these men were. There was uncomfortable laughter. As we put them in the manger together with everyone else, I said that God loved President Obama and Governor Walker the same. Uncomfortable laughter turned to silence.

 

We’re still a few weeks away from Advent but we’re only a few hours from the results of this year’s extra-contentious election. As I thought about what happens after today, I was reminded again of this children’s sermon. At Christmas, God created a new family – the one we traditionally see in the nativity scene. But this traditional family was really untraditional and was brought together in a most untraditional place. And gathered around, celebrating a joyous occasion is a group of strangers that smell like sheep and talk with a funny accent. Although the wise men didn’t come until later, they are in most of our nativities and they add even more oddity to the mix.

Maybe they all got along since the focus was supposed to be Jesus. But someone probably thought that they should be able to get a little closer. And someone else thought the guy next to him didn’t belong. And someone might have thought it was inappropriate Mary was there since she just gave birth and all. And the innkeeper already had his hands full – and now all of these strangers! That’s reality.

God’s family looks more like the one the kids put in the manger than the pretty one we set up with such care each Christmas. The messy, the stinky, the outcast, the rich man, the everyday guy, male and female – this is God’s definition of family. God’s Word says that we are children of God[1], co-heirs with Christ[2]. Jesus says my Father’s house has many rooms[3] and the table is large[4].

Family isn’t defined by those who look like us, are called our children by either blood-line or adoption, or even live in the same country. Family isn’t defined by who you voted for and who was elected. Family is defined by God[5].

I pray that Christian or not, our country will seek to listen and work together. For those of us who do call Jesus Lord, I pray that we keep our focus on Jesus. The Church – you and me – have a chance to witness to Christ’s commandment to love and Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. God in your mercy:  Lord, hear our prayer.

[1] 1 John 3:1

[2] Romans 8:17

[3] John 14:2

[4] Luke 13:29, Isaiah 56:3-8

[5] Matthew 12:49-50

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