Thursday, December 15, 2016

Accept God’s Plan and Rejoice

By Beth DeCristofaro

Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear, Break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor, For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife than the children of her who has a husband, says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:1)

I tell you, Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you”. I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”  … but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.) (Luke 7:27-28)

Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
        (Psalm 30:12-13)

Such incredible promises.  But you have to buy in.  Even though Jesus has just told us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, we struggle and chafe with what we think we deserve or dwell on misplaced priorities.  Don’t we all know someone who just can’t get on board, who sees the world as against him/her?

“Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot
But the Grinch who lived just North of Whoville did not!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.

But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But, whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve hating the Whos,”

Jesus told us again and again that God offers us His Kingdom, not our personal kingdom.  John, vital messenger and prophet, is less than the poor, abandoned, ill.  Yet John is as much Jesus’ brother as is the homeless, as are the bombarded in Aleppo, as am I and you.  God’s Kingdom is not of status. We prepare for Christmas in prayer and reflection and come to know again God’s compassion with our human tragedies and fragility.

The Who’s knew their celebration was symbolic of their hospitality, and community which resulted in joy:

"Pooh-pooh to the Whos!" (the Grinch) was grinchily humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!

They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!
Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
Then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry boo-hoo!”

That's a noise," grinned the Grinch, "that I simply must hear!"
He paused, and the Grinch put a hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low, then it started to grow.

But the sound wasn’t sad,
Why this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so.
But it WAS merry!  VERY! …

Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing without any presents at all! …

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!"

He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!” [i]

The phrase “keep Christ in Christmas” has become ubiquitous with the USA holiday season.  Perhaps we might think of how we do that.  Do we accept and support ourselves and those who look most and think most like us?  Or do we see the Kingdom as God’s and we are fortunately blessed participants.  Thus we can break forth in jubilant, song with the compassion of God on our lips, propelling our feet and hands and swelling our hearts?

[i] “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”, Geissel, Theodore Suess, Random House, New York, 1957)

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