[Church camp is] where I first heard the song, “They’ll Know We Are Christians.” The hymn was written in the 60s, by Peter R. Scholtes. A parish priest in Chicago, Scholtes was leading a youth choir and “was looking for an appropriate song for a series of ecumenical, interracial events.” Unable to find a song that worked, Scholtes wrote his own, and it has stood the test of time.
Jesus wanted to be sure the disciples knew the most important message of all: Love. No matter how many miracles they might perform, or how big the church might grow, or how many people they might baptize or visit in prison, none of that would mark them as disciples of Jesus. These things weren’t radical to the mind of Christ… What would be astounding to a watching world would be the love that Christ’s disciples displayed for each other.
As we sat together on the couch, my husband turned to me and said, “Instead of wars, let’s just figure everything out with basketball. If your team wins, your country gets the land. If our team wins, our country gets the land.”
I know it’s an oversimplification, but doesn’t it sound nice?
For those of us with a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and shoes on our feet, it’s hard to justify any reason for complaint. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that a certain state of affairs or some event has irritated or frustrated us. Really, it’s okay… David was a master complainer, and we can follow his example. Check out Psalm 13.
I suspect we would agree that children are better at practicing imagination, awe, and wonder. They do not let their imaginations become stunted by inhibitions. They don’t have enough history to fall back into old habits. Everything is new to children. Each day arrives on their pillow with a healthy dose of expectancy.
Newness originates with God. “Behold,” he says to us from Revelation, “I am making all things new.” Because God is consistently promising us new, we must be intentional about releasing what we’ve always known and how we’ve always done things, in order to get a glimpse of where God is excitedly inviting us to venture.
When the rules always seem to go in someone else’s favor, when you feel pushed to the margins, when you can’t seem to find your way and people keep telling you, “You best move on,” I pray you hear the soft cries of the holy infant and remember he has gone to prepare a place for you… and there is always room.
Jesus arrived in the world, just as planned from the foundation of the world. His arrival defies both good old-fashioned logic and our twenty-first century imaginations. His humble birth made the Kingdom of God accessible to all, even (especially?) those our traditions and customs and comforts and preferences can find no room to accommodate.
I find myself on the other side of the worst six years of my life. I’m not exaggerating, and I hope you’ll take my word for it. In the middle of those six years, someone asked me how in the world I was surviving it all. We were standing next to my car… I remember that I leaned my left hip against the car and said to her, “The thing that surprises me is that I haven’t lost my faith.” It still surprises me.
After years of living in exile, Zechariah and the children of Israel longed to see the Temple of God rebuilt and returned to its original glory. They desired to see their dream fulfilled, but the going was slow, and discouragement was a close companion. We’ve known that same discouragement when some future thing seems out of reach, and maybe it is, for now.