I don't know about you but Christmas often feels a bit surreal to me. Chestnuts roasting by an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your toes, Yuletide carols being sung by a choir....it all sounds so cozy and warm. And at our house, we attempt to create this warm environment. Christmas lights, Christmas baking, buying loved one gifts that will make them smile, devotions around the Advent wreath...all contribute to capturing this aura.
We continue to hear stories of what is happening in Syria. We continue to hear of terrorist attacks. We continue to hear of people suffering from illness, disease, and our loved ones die.
To bring the reality home a bit more, the article listed what types of FGM there is and what is done:
•Clitoridectomy - partial or total removal of the clitoris
The tools often used.
•Excision - removal of the clitoris and inner labia (lips), with or without the outer labia
•Infibulation - cutting, removing and sewing up the genitalia
•Any other type of intentional damage to the female genitalia (burning, scraping etc)
So while I bake and sing Christmas carols, girls are hiding in Kenya so that this won't be done to them.
What do I do with this juxtaposed reality? Should I feel guilty about the peace and safety that I enjoy in the US? Should I deny myself the pleasantries of Christmas in order to better relate to my suffering brothers and sisters around the world?
I don't think that is the solution. The reality is that these are surreal times and we have to exist in one, while being aware of the other. It means we pray with fervor, we act when appropriate, we temper our complaints for what is appropriate given our givens, and we live below our means to be able to bless those who are less fortunate than us. Romans 12:15 tells us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." It's not an either/or. It's a both/and. We live with a foot in both worlds. We choose to do that and not ignore one because it is uncomfortable. We smile and celebrate, and our mind flashes to those in pain. Does it make us feel a bit crazy at times? Absolutely. And it makes sense that it does.
Titus 3:3-7 reminds us of the gift that we received because of the birth of Christ:
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.The country I was born in might not practice FGM, but we have been disobedient, deceived and enslaved by other things. We all need the mercy that we have been given through the desire of God the Father to have fellowship with us, in the gift of His Son, Jesus.
And so we sing. We rejoice. We weep. We love.
To the glory of God. Amen and Amen.
From our house to yours, we wish you a blessed Christmas season and the peace of Christ in your hearts in 2017.