I am in Ashland City with my father who had eye surgery on Tuesday. He is recovering well. Since Vanderbilt is on "winter" break, it is nice to have the time to be with him without feeling pressure to be somewhere else. I have to confess to being somewhat lazy -- or maybe to put it more kindly, to being productive slowly!
I am thinking a lot about Christmas in a way that I have not done before. I hope that it is because I love Jesus more. One of our first FOCUS missionaries, PJ Butler, was in town for Charles and Erica Page's wedding last weekend; and he said that I seemed to love Jesus more. Boy, did that make me feel good!
Anyhow about Christmas: God is so amazing in trying to get us to love Him at His coming. For those who have some knowledge of God, His coming is likely to produce fear. Look at what the prophet Malachi said in the reading yesterday or what the store-front churches say today: Beware, He is coming! Then there is the attitude of those who do not know Him. They are unaware of His coming and could not care less if they did know. What is God to do?
Exactly what He did do -- to come in a way that inspires tender love: to come as a baby! He makes us responsible -- for Him!
I am reminded of a favorite and true story. Believe it or not, I had a parishioner in the little parish in Tennessee Ridge who was Japanese. She has a beautiful faith. Her conversion story is amazing. She was a little girl in the devastating aftermath of World War II in Japan. She was being raised by her Buddhist grandparents. Her mother came home one time, and told her a bed time story -- the story of the birth of Jesus. Where her mother had come across this story, she doesn't know. She remembered it as a beautiful story told to her by her mother, whom she did not see very often. But it had no religious significance for her. Years later, she was walking past a Catholic Church -- she lived near Nagasaki, where most Japanese Catholics are from. Outside of the church was a nativity scene. She stopped to look at it because she recognized it as the story that her mother had told her. The priest happened by and so he stopped and told her "the rest of the story." She was converted, and through her gentle faith so eventually were her grandparents and mother!
Do we ever look at Bethlehem with these eyes? Our God is that poor baby? Praise Him -- and love Him!