by Bill Strom
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25
When we see Christmas scenes of Jesus’ birth, we observe a family of three: Mary, Joseph, and the infant in swaddling clothes. They appear like a nuclear family in the 21st century where mom and dad work and junior goes to daycare. Jesus was born first, but he wasn’t an only child.
I wish we had more insight into Jesus’ growing up as he welcomed his half-brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas and at least three sisters (see Matthew 13:56). Did all the sons join father Joseph in the carpentry trade? Did his sisters marry early and bring brothers-in-law to the mix? How did siblings respond to Jesus’ messiah complex? We read in scripture it took a while for them to come around.
Why these questions at Christmas time? Because for me Christmas is about hope like that mentioned by the writer in Hebrews. And hope is best shared with family. This month our three sons will find their way to our home and we will eat, laugh, share, and encourage one another. And for any who struggle with health or relationships or vocations, we will find in the image of Jesus, the helpless babe so frail on straw, a source of strength. We know that He in us provides abundant potential for peace and purpose. Even amidst broken family.
Can you find hope in the story of Christ as child? In Jesus’ family? Or in your family as a mirror of His in its less-than-perfectness?
God, celebrating Christmas with family can be challenging at times, yet even in this experience may I find hope for myself, and bring encouragement to siblings and parents alike. Amen.
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