I’m on Facebook at the moment, talking to a couple great friends of mine from my home town in Camiri, Bolivia. I am trying to get one to comprehend what it’s like around here–the idea of the temperature being below freezing is a scary thought for him. And the fact that it is sunny at the same time is mind-blowing. He is telling me to stay inside so I don’t get a cold. I haven’t yet told him that it was -40 in Dubuque, IA a couple weeks ago, or that a foot of snow fell there overnight. Sometimes less is more I guess.
Earlier this morning, my brother from Turkey called us and my family gathered around the computer and talked through Skype to him. His family gathered around the other side–his wife was there and the three squirmy little kids were showing us all their Christmas presents. We got to see their cheerful faces on the computer screen and they got so see us. Another missionary family was also celebrating with them. Behind them the Christmas lights shone brightly on one of the few Christmas trees in this Muslim country. It was almost like we were in that living room with them.
My dad got a metal remake of a 1950’s car as a gift and he held it up for my little nephew to see. He reached out his little hand and tried to grab it, and my dad pulled it away and then put it back up, so the boy went for it again. Poor kid still couldn’t figure out that we weren’t actually there with him. Just on camera, several thousand miles away. Here it was breakfast, there it was bed-time.
Part of our conversation covered talking about my sister and her husband who are missionaries in Tanzania, Africa with my cute little niece as well. They are several thousand miles away as well, living in an extremely rustic little town–they cook with wood, do their duty in an outhouse, and wear more bug-repellent than clothing!
All of a sudden my brother rang up and I put him on my cellphone’s speaker-phone. He wanted to talk to his “little” brother in Turkey. The wife of my brother in Turkey commented: “This is crazy!” Here we were, talking through the internet, seeing each others faces, and they including another brother through a cellphone.
When we connected the dots, here we were in Seattle, talking to family in Eastern Turkey, and including a brother down in Florida with his family!
Maybe my brother in Bolivia will call later today and see how we are doing, or maybe my sister in Tanzania will comment on this post. Who knows. Perhaps I’ll wish a Merry Christmas to my friends in Switzerland, or maybe my dad will get a call from his sister–her family does International Missions work, currently out of Kazakhstan.
Okay, now the geography lesson is over (you Americans can sigh in relief now). I want to wish you a very warm and Merry Christmas, wherever you are and in whatever circumstances you find yourself. God’s family stretches from shore to shore, from city to city; his Kingdom is constantly being filled with more and more souls saved to eternity with our Maker.
Worldwide people of all races and backgrounds are joining together to remember Christ: his birth, his incarnation, and his salvation. He came to bring peace, but not as the world brings. Look up the news, even on Christmas there is violence going on. A teenage girl tackled her father and took his gun away last night, barely sparing the life of a police officer as the father recklessly shot at him. He is in prison and she is alone these holidays, likely bitterly reminiscing the past events over and over in her mind. Peace? Where?
They say that in WWI the war stopped for a day when a soldier started singing “Silent Night”. The soldiers, bloodied, cold, and filthy came up out of the trenches and forgot the war for a time. Germans and British sang together.
But the war resumed in the morning.
If all Christ afforded us by his birth was one day of peace a year it would still be a good thing. But these are crumbs falling from a king’s table. Jesus came to do and to bring so much more! He came to reunite God to man–he came to bring life to this dreary, hostile, and bloodied land we call home. He came to bring hope and faith that would find a firm foundation on the body of our Savior as he pleaded for mercy from the Cross. Remember the words of Paul in Ephesians 2:12-21
12 [R]emember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
That, my friends, is peace! What else is there to say?