One of my favorite commercials is one that Folgers coffee shows every Christmas. A brother arrives home after being gone for a long period. He gives his sister a present and she takes the bow and places it on his chest and say’s, “you’re my Christmas present this year.” I know, it’s kind of cheesy, but it expresses a vision for Christmas most of hold dear – that this is a time for family to be together.
I and my wife and two boys, have spent most of the last 23 years separated from immediate family by 1,000 miles and an international border. Church work does not lend itself to going home for Christmas. Going home is not always an option. As a result it is not always easy to watch other families gather and celebrate Christmas.
Last week at our church’s Christmas party the pastor asked everyone to share a personal Charlie Brown Christmas story. The sharing moved from funny to emotional. Before long tears were starting to emerge. Near the end of this sharing the host, an elder, made the following statement, “when we build this house we built it so our family would have a place to come and gather, lately I have come to realize that you are my family.”
He was including my family. We were an important part of his understanding of family.
Isn’t this what Christmas is about? God come to earth as a human, to invite us, all of humanity, to be part of a new family, the family of God. This is why the Christmas story is such good news to the widow, the orphan, and the homeless.
In the Christmas story we find a God who is in the business of turning strangers, foreigners and even enemies into family. This is very good news!