December 26, 2015
Do Not Be Downhearted!
This day -- the day "after" -- should be a day of joy and hope; a day in which we are aware of the Love and Mercy of the God who created us. For those in this nation (and the world) who reject the idea of a Creator who would sacrifice Himself to reconcile with us, it must surely seem as if we Believers are running after magical and imaginary beings; or legendary myths that have failed to produce any Good News for over 2,000 years.
And a similar thought process might actually occur in millions of lukewarm Christians whose faith is based on tangible results in their lives. I wish I could tell each person who is feeling discouraged or disheartened today that there is reason to be encouraged. That the baby born in Bethlehem 2,015 years ago brought Light into this dark world, and each day brings us closer to residing in His presence. And all you have to do is look around for the small signs and miracles that tell us His birth was for real, and He came to heal us, to deliver us, and to redeem us.
Sometimes those signs intrude upon our reality in the form of restored relationships, bodies, and events unexplained in the natural world. Broken marriages are mended; lives are cured of cancer; and if God so desires, some of us are blessed with supernatural occurrences that verify His presence. And sometimes, a simple story will speak to our spirits and we know that our hope remains alive.
Such is this story that was reported just a few weeks ago, right after the Thanksgiving holiday. I repeat it today as a symbol of the hope that can be yours, even in these moments when we are experiencing the let-down "blues" after Christmas.
Let's set the stage: At the Holy Child Jesus Church in the Richmond Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York, the custodian, Jose Moran, arranged the empty manger at the front of the church. It faced the pews, the crèche still empty of all the animals and statues of the Christmas story. Then he went to lunch.
Or should we bask in the knowledge that the congregation in this "melting pot" neighborhood has embraced this child and enveloped him in love; that thousands of letters have flooded the church with expressions of caring and offerings to adopt him. Just as God chose not to abandon us to our sins and a life apart from Him, this child was not abandoned, but rather placed in the midst of God's House, where the love of God's people would surround him.
This story will soon fade away from the spotlight, but what it symbolizes should remain as a testimony of God's love -- that He came as an innocent child to bear our iniquities and to show us the Father's love and desire to restore our broken relationship with Him. Whether it is the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem, or an unknown baby boy born in Queens, New York, love is evident in the world. And that love exists because of the One True God who created us in His image. And the message that I want you to take away today is that this Love will prevail. There is no need to be sad, or down in the dumps. You can gaze upon the world and be repulsed ... or you can fix your heart and spirit upon the everlasting Hope that is yours in faith. What will you choose?
Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises."