December Update

Posted on December 25, 2013

I have a confession. This Christmas season I have been filled with wonder, but not the wonder with which I wanted to be filled.

I wanted to spend this month being filled with the awe and wonder of Christ coming as a baby born in a manger. To contemplate this great and amazing gift. That’s not what happened though.

Instead, I have wondered why people are so quick to respond to crazy things said in the media. For example, “Santa just IS white.” What sort of crack-pot thing is this to say, and then, why do we justify the crack-pot who said this thing by getting all fired up about it and giving it more attention than it deserves? I mean, really, Santa? Santa is made up. He’s not real (sorry kids), and if we really get down to the nitty gritty of it, Santa is whatever race your parents are. No real mystery there, and no real story either. But somehow this story filled my Twitter feed, and caused me to watch Jon Stewart’s reaction (no regrets there, he’s spot on and hilarious).

I have also wondered why people are so upset about Duck Dynasty Phil. Actually, I wonder why people are not upset, at least so it seems, by what he said, but by the fact he got in trouble for what he said. It seems people are willing to give a college educated millionaire a pass on his words, but not give the network that gave him his far reaching fame a pass for suspending him. Seriously, what is wrong with us? Why do we, as a culture, get upset over things that we shouldn’t be upset over (1st Amendment says you can say what you want, it doesn’t say you won’t suffer consequences of saying whatever fool thing you want to say), and the things that really matter we keep silent about (just the other day hundreds of people were killed in South Sudan by a new uprising threatening civil war, millions of people still don’t have clean drinking water, millions die of starvation, millions in slavery, on and on and on it goes). Sometimes it makes my brain hurt, and makes me real glad to not be in the US caught up completely in this stuff. What I see on Facebook and Twitter lets me know if I were there I would be bombarded by these stories and would surely be even more frustrated than I am currently.

I have wondered, several times, how a mom can leave her three kids here in Eburru while she goes to a neighboring village for days on end, with no regard for their safety or well-being. The kids are left to fend for themselves for food, the 9 year old girl is responsible for her brother and sister, and no one seems to really mind or think this is a big enough problem to get involved. Somehow, the “it takes a village” concept doesn’t apply when parents are making ridiculously bad decisions regarding their kids. It breaks my heart, it keeps me up at night wondering what is the best way to help, and it causes me to wonder what will happen to these sweet little kiddos.

I have spent time wondering what kids in Eburru would do if they heard the story of Santa. Would they believe it? Would they hold out hope someone would bring them presents if they were good enough? Would they fall asleep on Christmas Eve with eager anticipation of Santa coming to their house and giving them presents? Or, would the story of Santa be too good to be true? Would they know there is no way a stranger could bestow gifts upon them, and would they sleep Christmas Eve the same as every other day—going to bed a little bit hungry, a little bit cold, and hoping for a good day tomorrow.

All these things have filled my mind this month, but it wasn’t until last night that I actually was filled with the wonder of Christmas. Last night I was putting my giko outside to light it, and I looked up. I looked up and saw a million stars. They were so bright, so clear, so near. My mind instantly went to what the shepherds saw and heard. The star leading them to Bethlehem, them meeting Jesus in the manger. What must they have thought? What must the worship have looked like? Were they filled with wonder at what they were seeing, wonder with who they were meeting?

And in the moment of wondering about the shepherds, God met me. He spoke to my heart and restored the wonder of Christmas. He spoke words of truth, words of comfort. He is the One who came to be among us. The One who gave us the greatest gift we could ever know; the greatest gift the world could ever receive. He is the One who is in control. He sees the suffering of the world and has come to be with us in the midst of that suffering and pain. He is Immanuel. He enters in the dark places and brings light. He walks with us, abides with us, loves us, and forgives us. He is with the crack-pots and fools, He is with the kids left alone by their mother, He is with the kids who sleep hungry, and He is with me. All because He came as a baby born in a manger. Humbly, gently, He came to us to give us life. He came to us to make all things new.

And it is with these thoughts filling my mind and heart this Christmas day that I will join with the angels and say, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

Merry Christmas from Eburru. May you be filled with the Christmas story today.

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