The “in-between” time of late December has always fascinated me: Christmas has come and gone, and the anticipation of “new beginnings” with the coming year is mounting. With all the activities surrounding Christmas, one wonders quite quickly what the meaning of it all is. Certainly, every year we hear voices calling us to remember the true meaning of Christmas (just as we hustle and bustle about, shopping, preparing massive meals, or travelling to see family or friends). Do I really need to add to those voices? Does it make sense to be “another one” who tries to put a different spin on Christmas? Maybe the answer is a resounding “no”, but since Christmas has already happened, I sense that a little bit of sharing might be okay.
I have learned something new about the meaning of Christmas this year, and would like to call that new learned thing “relational blessing”. We had the tremendous joy of having visitors for Christmas this year: a great family and two single ladies who came to Fada to spend the holiday with us.
Over meals and random free moments, we had great conversations about the little and the big things of life, connecting as human beings during a short period of time that was not clouded by storms of stress and winds of “to-do-lists”. We all drank from the invigorating drink of relationship as we simply had the time available to do so. The building and renewing of relationships happened, because Christmas provided the down-time for it. For boxing day (or St. Steven’s day), a few more “new” friends (from France and Senegal) and a fellow missionary friend who lives here in town joined us for a holiday feast in our home. New and old friends mixed, shared, laughed, and enjoyed the relational blessings of the evening.
So, that doesn’t sound like anything new, you say? Well, I have to mention that the meaning of relationship is found only in the coming to earth of the God-Man Jesus. Sure, that is the standard Christian line to use – but let me explain further: The ultimate proof of the centrality of relationship is found in the sacrifice of a triune God, sending 1/3 of Himself to earth, so that our relationship with Him would be restored. It all makes sense: relational blessing! There really was no other reason for Jesus to leave the perfect comfort of perfect relationship within the Trinity. If we think the earth needed another good teacher, another good moral example, another friend to the poor, destitute, and marginalized – we are completely right! But did it need to be God-become-Man, walking this cracked earth with us? Couldn’t it be a simple command, spoken by God, to set our messed up relationship with Him straight? No – it could not be so simple, because it would have excluded the relational blessing of God sharing life with humanity. Why did Jesus go eat at the tax-collectors house? Because he was seeking a relationship!
After several days filled with relational blessings, I understand a little bit more about the heart of God and even more the heart of the Trinity. In the end, when all the food is eaten, all the friends have left, and we are once again returning to the routines of our lives, do we call the money we make, the houses we have, the cars we drive, the good health we have…”blessings”, or do we count relationships (with the triune God as well as with fellow members of humanity) as the truest and most meaningful blessing? What is the meaning of Christmas? I’m not sure I could answer that question in completeness, but I feel like a new piece for the answer has been added to my understanding this year…and grateful I am to be relationally blessed!
Wishing you a great start to the New Year, we pray that you will be “relationally blessed” in 2012.