November 23, 2016
I was in the midst of a conversation with my son Ben a few days ago when he reminded me of the WW 1 story about soldiers on the two opposing sides who suspended their fighting during Christmas. There are several accounts of them actually engaged in soccer matches against one another. There are similar recordings of the same sort of things happening during the United States’ Civil War. They didn’t play soccer of course, but they stopped killing one another long enough to meet in the middle of the battle zone and in some cases to exchange gifts. HOW AMAZING IS THAT!?
Can I suggest that we do the same this holiday season? Can we set aside our anger, hurt, social agendas, political agendas, personal agendas, rudeness, ungodliness, self righteousness…, for the sake of peace and those we love? Or are our social and political interests that much more important than the issues facing the soldiers in those long ago wars? I am and have been concerned greatly about the damage done to families and friendships over the caustic election process that we just experienced. I fear that across this country, families will meet over turkey and mashed potatoes with a pretense of “Thanksgiving.” And then some insensitive, egocentric moron will begin to spill their guts about an issue related to the election and the next thing you know, folks who claim to love one another will no longer be speaking. Shame, shame, shame! Senseless, senseless, senseless! Stupid, stupid, stupid! (I feel sort of strongly about this.)
Some members of my extended family will read this rumination. I hope and pray that what I am about to write will not hurt them. Sadly, one of the legacies of my family is brokenness and hostility. There have been too many years lost when “this one” is no longer speaking to “that one.” Parents to children; children to parents; cousins to cousins; siblings to siblings… most any combination you can think of. There are broken relationships that have been unresolved for years because one person or more just wants to live in denial and their own selfish oblivion and ambition. (Of course it’s never seen that way. It’s always, “I’m justified because so and so did such and such.”) I have sadly had my own part to play in all of this. I know there are difficult things to deal with but…, I’m pretty sure this brokenness is not what God intended.
I know my family is not the only one to have these struggles. And quite honestly, it breaks my heart. But you know what? More families will be in this situation come January. Many more, I fear! It doesn’t have to be…, but it will be. How sad is that? I know that this does not apply to everyone but for many, your family may be your last “line of defense” in a frightening world. You cannot afford to forsake them over an election and the things that “might not” be vs. the things that “might be.” It’s possible that you will need your family in the years to come!
The Bible doesn’t say as much about families as we might like but it says A LOT about “love.” Frankly, it’s a subject we don’t know much about. Oh, I know we say or think we do but our actions betray us. The word “love” that I speak of is a Greek word – “Agape.” It means “self sacrificial love,” i.e., we give up our own desires so that we might serve, care for and even die for someone else.* So, who do you love to that extent? Seriously? Remember, the key phrase is “self sacrifice.” I often tell couples getting married that the problem here is that my generation knows nothing of sacrifice… and theirs knows less. They are about to embark on a journey that requires something they know nothing about. They better learn quickly!
So, it is my hope and prayer that you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please take to heart what I mentioned above. You might even want to forward this rumination to a few folks (or include it in your Christmas cards! Well, okay, maybe not.)
* 1 Corinthians 13
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.