Earlier today, Jinhee and I were in a church that we dearly love and singing a Christmas hymn, “O Holy Night.” And when we were singing the third verse, I started to tear up and my cracking voice couldn’t keep up with the lyrics:
“Truly he taught us to love one another;
His law is love, and his gospel is peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his holy name;
Christ is the Lord, O, Praise his name forever.
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!”
And as I looked around at the worshippers at my church, I realized one thing: we are family.
I love my family, the one that bore me and trained me to live. They nurtured me and guided me, and loved me as best as they could. And with the birth of my nephew Carter, I’m feeling a blood-bond with him that has wrapped its cords around me. Add that my parents are down here in San Diego and I can eat my mother’s grand cooking and hear my father’s exuberant laugh, and you read the words of a person thankful for his family.
But we are also part of a larger family: when Jesus was told that his mother and brothers were looking for him, he said, “… whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” And today, we celebrate the beginnings of a new family. Through Jesus, I have brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers all over the world today. And my siblings and I are trying to do what Jesus was doing — loving each other and healing the planet. Because Jesus taught us to love one another, and his law is love and his gospel is peace. Slaves are our brothers and sisters, and in his name all oppression shall cease. He’s setting up a new Kingdom, a new community, a new family. And Jesus is calling us to be more like Dad. And to thank Dad. And that’s Christmas. And to all of those who consider themselves students of Jesus, here’s one thing I know: we are family.