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Isaiah 52:7-10

Did you ever consider how hassle-free it is to be dead? You wouldn’t have to get up in the morning and shower or brush your teeth, or fight to get that last hair in place. Your suit would be neatly pressed for you and you wouldn’t have to worry about getting it stained or wrinkled by sticky fingered children who are climbing up in your lap after dinner. Everything would be nice and neat and orderly and . . . DEAD! Some homes are like that. You know the kind; there you are afraid to sit on the furniture. Churches can get like that too, nice and neat and dead! Personally, I prefer the controlled chaos of the alive Church. One that is often in disarray because of the life that is happening in it.

Where tattered cocoons lay here and there as evidence of a tremendous struggle, but where a butterfly emerges. I prefer a church home where lots of neighbors and their kids gather in an atmosphere of comfort saying you are welcome here in the name of the Savior who lives and understands life. Lastly, I prefer the Church where the excitement of each new day is to watch in wonder how God takes an impossible problem and resolves it to his glory and my growth. Yeah, I’ve considered the dead church, but it’s DEAD compared to LIFE!

Ever notice how the world comes alive at Christmas time? Victor Hugo once said, “A house is built of logs and stone, but a home is built of loving deeds and will stand a thousand years.” At Christmas one can almost feel the love in the air. It is the one time of the year that even those who are “tightwads” will open their purses and share.

Inter faith ministries has for many years been encouraging people to volunteer to work with people with AIDS in our community. For years I have always found a reason why I could not help. Just not enough time.
– It would be better for a lay person than a minister (we get preachy).
– But there was something inside that kept telling me that I was avoiding the
real issues.
– I don’t want to be around that environment.
– I don’t want to be around death and dying, I have done my time.
– It is preciously because you have walked the path that they need you.
– Death must be prepared for.
– People must be loved.
– God, we are talking AIDS here, and I don’t care whether it came from lifestyle
or drug use, I don’t want to be around it.
– You don’t want to minister to the lepers?
– The ones no one want to be around.
– The ones who’s familes are rejecting them.
– The ones that can’t get insurance or hold a job.
– You know, “the least of these.”

My first meeting with the young man (5 years difference) who had AIDS who I was to minister to was tense at first. It is never easy to learn about new people, especially ones with such great needs. I tried to be as incognito as possible, not telling him I was a minister. After about an hour of conversation he said, “You must be a minister.” “You strike me as a choir boy.” “In one hour you have been only kind and haven’t said a curse word yet.” But you know, my prejudices were there. At one point he told me he smoked. I caught myself saying, “Do you want to die of lung cancer?”

When the visit was over I got in my car and I had a Christian CD in the player.
It was Easter music. It had been a good visit but I was tired, emotionally drained, hurting for him because of his load and his loneliness. Somehow in that car with that music, I was home with God. I could have easily been that young man and made all of the wrong choices in life. But it was my relationship with God that had made the difference.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,”Your God reigns!”

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