We’re gathered in my living room, a whiskey oak candle flickering on the counter, muffins and cookies and a platter of fruit lined up obediently and a gust of wind blowing wood smoke like an old man’s beard against the window panes. The air inside smells like burning pine and melting wax and brewed coffee.
We’re gathered in chairs and on couches, talking about the recent election and our children and our prayers for the future. Bible commentaries and different translations of Scripture sit askew on the coffee table in the middle of the living room and I pick up the guitar and we sing together “Speak Oh Lord” by Keith Getty.
We’re women gathered from many denominations in a small Dutch hamlet in northern Alberta, yet even as fierce winds blow outside our windows – winds of controversy and division – we sit here in one home in determined unity, a family of sisters becoming Christ’s body.
It’s been a time of losing family for me – my grandma, grandpa, uncle, and mother passing away all within the past few years, and then my Dad remarrying this past summer, and I think often of Matthew 12:46-50, of Jesus being told his mother and brothers are waiting for him outside the door, and turning to those before him and saying, “Here* are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus came at Christmas, a King of Glory born into a manger of filth, not just to bring us salvation from sin and fulfillment of the Mosaic law, but to give us a new family.
No more sadness
John 14:23 (NIV) beautifully affirms this when Jesus tells his disciples, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him*.” The KJV tells us the Trinity will make its “abode” with us. The NET Bible says it will “take up residence” with him.
Earlier in chapter 14, Jesus lovingly removes any fear of abandonment when he says, “I will not leave you as orphans*; I will come to you. In a little while, the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you*” (v. 18-20).
So even as you gather around the Christmas tree and drink eggnog with relatives, even as your heartstrings tug when those who are supposed to love you make snide remarks or uncaring gestures – feel the Spirit’s tug within. Feel the embrace of the Father and Son, and remember Jesus came to earth so you could dine with him (Rev. 3:20), make your home with him, and be given a family in which there is no more sadness, no more division, no more deception (Rev. 21:4) – simply the body of Christ, gathered as one, forever.
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