" ... I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord." Luke 2:10-11
We all have children in our lives - daughters and sons, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, the kid we tutor or the neighbor child next door. Our lives brighten when they greet us with a hug or a song in this holiday season.
As Christians we also have a child at the heart of our faith story. Jesus is his name. He is one child, born into a world of children, whose birth brings the promise of peace and joy. The hymn writers marvel at the difference this one life makes. Love incarnate. Emmanuel. Hope of every nation. Babe of Bethlehem. What a wonderful child. Holy infant, so tender and mild.
I have to admit, as Christmas draws near this year, the faces of other children are imprinted on my heart and mind. There is Jakelin, a 7-year-old from Guatemala, who spent the last hours of her life riding a bus across New Mexico with a blazing fever and no water to drink. There is 12-year-old Abrar, whose skeletal frame is the reminder of the tens of thousands of children who have perished in the civil war in Yemen. There are the stoic high school seniors from Paradise, California, finishing school in makeshift buildings miles from home after the cataclysmic wildfires this fall. Across the globe more than 12 million children are refugees. In this country 2.5 million kids are homeless.
It is easy to be discouraged by the humanitarian crises around the globe. Social media brings the faces of those most hard pressed by life right into our daily lives. It's a lot like ... well, the very year Jesus was born. Political unrest, a tyrannical monarch and forced migration are all woven into the story of his birth. Times like these are precisely the times in which God draws near.
This year may the faces of all children - the lost and the joyous, the weary and the wound-up - blend together within the radiant light of the Christ Child's face. We call him Jesus and celebrate his birth, trusting that he has come so that all might have life and hope and love. I pray that none of us will ever be too old, too jaded to believe that in Christ we - and all around us - are blest by God.
Yours in Christ's coming -
Bishop Patricia Lull
The Rev. Patricia Lull is the Bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America