Monday, November 17, 2008

Anticipating Christmas

I am finding myself deeply moved, challenged, and stirred by the baby of an unwed mother living in poverty in a rural, isolated, back-water town. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Isn’t that where and how the God of the universe showed up?

It may not be what you think. A couple weeks ago our family sponsored Theresia through Compassion International. Theresia lives with her mom and two siblings in an impoverished rural AIDS-infected area of Tanzania. She will be five in early January. She is precious and important beyond what she has any way of knowing. She is loved.

Predictions are picking up in the media about how dismal this Christmas season will be. The defining measurements are consumer spending and credit availability. Maybe especially because of this year’s economic challenges, Theresia’s influence on my heart helps to put it all in perspective.

The little town of Bethlehem was buzzing in a flurry of activity on that first Christmas. People were traveling great distances to be there. Inns were filling up. There were family reunions and festive parties. All of those pouring into that otherwise sleepy little town were there to fulfill the obligation to show up (Luke 2:1-3). It was all good. Other than hints in Biblical prophesy (e.g. Micah 5:2), they had no way of knowing why they were really there, what was really happening and the meaning of what they were missing. They were so close to it! In all the flurry of activity, in the least likely of places, God showed up.

That’s what hits me every time I walk past Theresia’s picture on our refrigerator. I want to pick her up and give her a hug. Her eyes, life, and new found place in our family provide ballast for my heart. God is using her to stir me to want to serve more and to care more. He is using her to help reorient my heart. I don’t want to miss why we are really here, what is really happening and the meaning of what we are really celebrating. I can be so close. Mother Teresa once said “It’s the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” Her words are hard; but that is her point. Jesus said “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

Interestingly, Theresia’s full name means “little harvester.” God is using Compassion to reach her with His unfathomable love by showing up in the least likely of places, as the world measures things. Half way around the world, Jesus is showing up to harvest my heart through this baby of an unwed mother living in poverty in a rural, isolated, back-water town. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? That’s where and how the God of the universe shows up.

What do you think? Please click "Comments" 6 to leave yours.


Bob McL. said...


You're brilliant! You put the "anonymous" Thanksgiving poll right next to the blog about little Theresia--a dear child growing up in poverty in Tanzania. How can I possibly answer the Thanksgiving poll honestly without feeling guilty? Even anonymously, I would know the guilt inside as I was clicking on "Big Thanksgiving Dinner" as my favorite tradition. That's the blessed way I was raised--not in poverty, but rather with a big Thanksgiving dinner. And that was true every day of the year!

Then, by some coincidence, as I was pondering your Thanksgiving poll, there was a news report on K-LOVE radio that said the number of hungry children in the United States increased by nearly 100% last year. I think God is trying to make a point.

I have been able to reconcile all of this by realizing there is another reason to gather and share a big Thanksgiving dinner. It is recorded in 1 Cor. 11:23-24, "The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.'"

When I have Thanksgiving dinner this year, I will remember Theresia. And I will remember Jesus. Thanks, Wayne. You're brilliant!

Bob McL.

Linz said...

I must agree with Bob. I too felt some guilt from the poll. Though I was honest... I picked parades because thats kind of in the middle of the spectrum... right?

"Kitty Cat!" :)

Anyways, I too am anticipating Christmas (though I was in June...though I held off the relentless Christmas music playing until Halloween) and Theresia is on my fridge as well. I feel incredibly blessed and thankful to think that though I may be a loan dependent, poor, "starving" Masters student right now, I have a warm home to go to for Thanskgiving and for Christmas I get to go to MY HOME and I can't wait. Because the only thing better then eating good food is eating good food with good people aka YOU.

That all aside, I am thankful. OH and this blog was interesting because I volunteered at this huge children's writing workshop, teaching kids how to write (I told you about it). Anyways, I taught 2nd graders and the teachers had to make our own book as an example, and due to millions of staple-binding books made as a child, this was not a problem and a nice break from the Masters work. :) Guess what I made it about? Anticipating Christmas! It was titled "Is It Christmas Yet? A story bout waiting and being thankful", It is about a 7 1/2 year old girl(because the 1/2 is important to 2nd graders) named...Lindsay who loves Christmas more then anything. (I don't know where I got the inspiration). Anyways, Lindsay is annoyed that she has to wait another month and a half for Christmas and wishes Thanksgiving would just come and get over with already (because afterall you don't get presents on Thanksgiving). Her friend Caleb (I was teaching w/ my friend Caleb) so wisely advises her that while Christmas is wonderful and yes, we do get presents, Thanksgiving is a time to be THANKFUL and give thanks for what we ALREADY have been blessed with. Lindsay starts to think about everything she is thankful for, realizes that Christmas is one of those things, and ultimately gets excited for Thanksgiving too.

So yeah. I made that book a couple weeks ago but I thought it was ironic considering your blog. What is it you always say? Great minds think alike? :)

I love you and I miss you and I am terribly thankful for you. (Little Lindsay in my book was thankful for her dad too).

Love you!