These poignant and challenging thoughts come from my friend Kurt:
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He was born to an unwed teenage girl.
Born in substandard housing.
He was first greeted by some of the most marginalized people in his culture.
Under fear of death by a powerful politician, this boy and his family fled to another country and lived some time in exile.
The man who raised him was not his birth father.
He spent his most significant adult years as a wandering teacher without a permanent home.
He was executed by a coalition of religious and secular leaders afraid of his revolutionary ideas.
This one, born homeless, has become the one who offers hope to the world.
As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, it is good to remember Jesus’ earthly beginning, and his self-emptying, servant stance. Jesus reached out to the marginalized throughout his life. Jesus cared for those who were aliens and marginalized following the grand tradition of the people of Israel who once were aliens themselves.
Jesus is Emmanuel: God with us. He is still God with us. He has stepped into our neighborhood and everything changes.
He stepped into the messiness of our lives — so as his followers, we must step into the messiness of our world.
Bono of U2 spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington a few years ago. He called attention to the poor and the vulnerable in our world. In that talk before then President and Mrs. Bush, King Abdullah of Jordan, and other politicians and religious leaders, he said:
“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives … and God is with us — if we are with them.”
May the celebration of Jesus’ birth stir us to look beyond ourselves and towards others.