We have some great Christmas traditions out here in Middle Earth. No, not in this Muslim culture but at our house. One of my favorites is the Carol Sing. Every year we stuff as many homesick expatriots into our house as we can and sing Christmas Carols for four hours or so. It always starts with my wife at the piano and us all singing hymns out of the Hymnal and slowly degenerates to the Karaoke where we go from Winter Wonderland to the inevitable Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. Last night we had over fifty people in our living room at one point and a great time was had by all. We had truckloads of fancy sweets and cookies. The highlight of the evening is usually my daughter Goldberry and I singing O Holy Night but last night we also sang the much lesser known One Small Child which was beautiful not least because Goldberry coming home from University was unexpected and a great joy in its own right. Just so you know I do sing Rudolf the Rednose Reindeer with a red flashlight on my nose every year and last night was no exception. When I think of Christmas I think of my Lord and how His coming has made our remarkable community possible. I love our community. They are special, extremely cool, dedicated people who love the Lord and are committed to bringing hope to a very dark and desperate place in this world. We sing and laugh and hug each other and part knowing that though we will each face remarkable trials we will each be there for the other over the coming year. On Saturday several of the families will gather again at our house where I will have a Turkey and some of my homemade stuffing. A good friend of mine is coming up with a ham! It will be a great day full of love and good friends and family. This is Christmas to me.
This morning my daughter Goldberry got up early and went out with a local fellowship. When she came back she walked in the door and fell into my arms and sobbed and cried uncontrollably for nearly ten minutes. I wondered if something terrible had happened but between sobs I understood that they had been to the local orphanage for handicapped children. Whatever you are thinking about how bad it could be there you are wrong. It is much worse. These children are not just blind, or have Downs syndrome, or are crippled. They each have several of these issues to deal with and are living in one of the poorest institutions in one of the poorest Countries in the world. Goldberry went with a local church group that gave gifts and sang songs. They even did a short play on the Good Samaritan. My daughter spent most of her time holding a two year old boy who had no eyes and clubbed feet. She told me about the young autistic boy with boundless energy who exasperated his caregivers by continually bolting for the door. She told me about the little boy who sang songs about everything all the time and in spite of having empty sockets where eyes should be he was continually happy. She told me about the little girl who danced in circles with joy for their coming though she couldn't use her hands and her cleft palate made speech difficult.
Christmas is a reminder to me of the community that Jesus came to establish but it is also a reminder to me of the war He came to declare. Jesus coming to the world was a declaration of war on the evil forces mankind has unleashed on itself. The forces of Hell are trying to mar dehumanize the image bearers of God and Jesus has come to declare that our enemy's power is broken. We declare this with every song of hope and joy that we sing, with every love-soaked hug that we give, with every generous act of compassion we share. The Christ is born in a humble manger as a poor baby in a small insignificant place for a reason. He is the way. Our way is not with the politically powerful, nor with the wealthy, nor with the cunning. Our way lies with the meek, clothed in forgiveness, full of grace and peace. When we live this way we bring His Kingdom and in the wake of His Kingdom injustice fails, falsehood is overthrown, and poor blind children are held and loved forever.