December 18, 2017

Advent 2017

"God's Radical Love"

Mary and Joseph had a good thing going for a Jewish couple in first century Palestine. Virtuous young woman. Industrious young man. Reputations beyond reproach. A wedding in the works. And a plan for their future lives together. Until change, in the form of a heavenly messenger, intervened with the news that Mary was to be the mother of history's most famous change agent, Jesus.

Jesus believed in treating people as equally valuable at a time when slaves, women, foreigners, and even people in certain occupations were considered less than fully human. Instead of rejecting them, he embraced them as children of the Creator and welcomed all to his circle. While liberating for many, this change was too radical for others who preferred to stay in their comfort zone.

We too have a choice when faced with change. We can decide to focus on what we may lose. We may instead think about what we may gain if we change. Jesus said that if we choose to live as he did, there is far more to gain than to lose.

As parents, we arrived at such a crossroads four years ago when our only child reached out to tell us that she was transgender. We had to decide if we would open our hearts and minds and seek to understand. Would we continue to love her unconditionally, as we always had, or risk fracturing a relationship we treasured to somehow "make a point"? Much like a decision to follow Christ, there was no middle ground. So, we decided to embark on a journey of change with Jesus as our standard. Since then, he has accompanied us all across the peaks and through the valleys of change. If it's possible, we love our child even more than before. We have never been closer as a family, and God has blessed our lives abundantly.

This journey has taught us much about the power of change. To borrow from the wisdom of author John Pavlovitz, we now believe that true Christianity is about "building a bigger table rather than a higher wall." Because Jesus was more about relationships than religion, our faith is about embracing those of a different stripe and being welcoming and inclusive to everyone we meet, as was he. It's about building a Church that is not the least but the most diverse place on the planet. Most of all, we are more fervent than ever in our hope and dream that, as Pavlovitz says, "The life of Christ can be fully incarnated in the people who bear his name."

An Advent Prayer: "Help our faith to produce more than sides and silos. Give us the courage to move out of our comfort zones and be worthy to be called Christians. Nurture in us a gentler, kinder, more loving and inclusive spirit, in the name of your Son and our Savior."

-- Ellen and Jerry Davis

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