Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Wonder of the Incarnation

As I sit here this Christmas Eve, listening to Handel's "Messiah," looking at our decorated and well-photographed Christmas tree, having wrapped my wife's presents in anticipation of tomorrow's gift giving after spending 4 hours at this morning and afternoon's Church festivities, I am struck by something not usually associated with the Christmas season. Maybe others are often struck by this particular truth, but something that happened today drew my attention to the equality that Christ enacted among His New Covenant people.

One of the few things that will bring a tear to my eye at our Church here in Kyiv is when the kids from the children's program — which is held a good 10-minute walk from our Church, and thus is rarely heard or seen — perform before the Church. It's not the cuteness of the dressed up 5-year-olds who can barely recite the lines to their poems or the way the shy 10-year-olds strain their voices to reach notes that their vocal cords aren't practiced enough to reach. These are universals for children's programs. What gets me is one girl in particular. I don't know her name and she may not even have a family member in our Church since our Church provides Sunday school services for about 30 kids whose families don't attend. This girl is unique because she has a severe speech handicap that is likely tied to some other handicap or paralysis. In spite of this handicap, the girl performs almost every time the children are in front of the Church. It moves me that even though she is almost incomprehensible — and in this particular situation, the problem is NOT my fluency level in Russian — she performs, everyone is overjoyed that she has performed, and God is glorified by this little one. The fact that no one, not even the other children, laughs at this girl and that she is proud enough of who she is as a child of God to praise Him in spite of her handicap, does something to my heart that I can't quite explain.

This morning, as the kids walked up the aisle to the front of the Church and were performing, I was worried. Try as I might, I couldn't see her. There were more kids than usual today, which is exciting, but I began to worry about why the girl wasn't there. Between songs, individual kids shared their poems and solos, but the end of the performance came and she hadn't done anything. I thought that maybe, during our time in America, she had stopped going to the Church for some reason or other. And my worry is that, outside of the Church, she will be treated quite badly, which is why I'm always so eager to see her when the kids perform. I don't want to even think about how the soul of this little girl could be crushed by the cruelty of this world. Just knowing that she is in our children's program, where she has a place to feel welcomed, loved and appreciated, reinforces the truth that in Christ handicap, social status, ethnicity and ability are not a factor. She is a child of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit and she is highly valued in the Kingdom of God.

Imagine my relief when, as the children exited, I saw her walking down the aisle. Even though she didn't perform something individually, she was involved, and that is what ended up being so important to me and why I was so worried. While thinking about what was going on inside me this morning, why I was so worried and why this little girl's involvement is such a testimony to me of Kingdom equality, I realized that we wouldn't have such a value without the Incarnation. It would be nice to think that man could have developed such a value with time, even if Christ never came, however, the cultural and social values of Jesus' day and the resistance He met when He confronted those values, doesn't support such a positive assessment of humanity. So, as we celebrate our Lord's coming and the full grandeur of what His coming means, don't forget that part of that grandeur is the equality that allows someone like this little girl from a little Church in Kyiv — and by extension, every one of us — to be loved and included. Merry Christmas.


Trader Joel said...

Merry Christmas brother...we miss you.

Deena said...

Merry Christmas... I agree with you so much there is nothing better than seeing a child feel loved and secure despite their insecurities. Hope you have a beautiful holiday... love to you and Josie and D... Off to send you a scan from Niguel, check your email!