And now for Sami’s ramblings about Jesus:
I’ve been thinking about family and what that word means a lot lately. On Sunday morning a couple told the story of how God moved them to adopt a 4 year old little boy from another country. It was so moving to hear how an independent and happily childless couple began the journey to adopt someone of a completely different language and culture into their lives. As they spoke of Brian, their son, it was evident that God had expanded their hearts so much to accommodate his presence; the love they felt for that little boy spilled out of their voices and onto ever ear that heard their story. It reminded me of Bill and Kim, my own brother and sister-n-law who have adopted their own baby boy from Russia. Konnor officially entered our family on the day that Noah was born. Soon, he would enter our hearts as well, just as he had already become deeply woven into the hearts of Bill and Kim. It has made me realize how powerful family ties are, and how family is born of love, not simply born.
Certainly the word “family” echoes more deeply in my own heart this Christmas season. As I look at the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament hanging on our tree, I marvel that just one year ago our hearts were filled with the painful ache and longing to have a child of our own. And now Noah announces his presence in our lives in the most amazing ways: with coos, and laughs, and cries, and lots of dirty diapers! I am constantly surprised at how easily I miss him when we are apart. Last Friday night, as we made our annual Wesley Foundation road trip to Nashville to see the lights, I kept looking into the eyes of passing children wishing Noah could be there with us, dreaming of that day when he will be old enough to enjoy all the decorations of the Opryland Hotel. And while I walked around that winter wonderland, I was poignantly aware that this longing to see my son had to be like God’s longing to see us. I could feel a new awareness of the miracle of Christmas dawning in my heart; because Jesus lives there, that constant communion with my Heavenly Father is always there. God sent Jesus because He wanted to be close to us all the time. I knew being a mother would change me. I just never could imagine the power of that love. While it is the most urgent and powerful feeling I have ever had, it pales greatly in comparison to God’s love for us. His love is unlegislated. Which is to say that it simply comes to us and keeps on coming.
I know this is true because I feel His love move through me for each person He has placed in my care as a pastor. And as I enter into God’s love for you, I am deeply changed. I will jokingly say sometimes that before I had Noah, I had the students at the Wesley Foundation. But in a very real way it is true. The love of Christ that dwells in my heart for this ministry and for each of you is purely unlegislated. We are not related by blood, but the bonds certainly are as lasting. We belong to each other. Because of this calling on my life, I belong to you. It breaks my heart that anyone could live their entire lives without knowing this kind of love. It breaks my heart that there are those on this campus who don’t know this kind of belonging.
If I could give anything in the world to people I cared about, I would give them the experience of the Wesley Foundation. What this place did for me years ago as a student, it is still doing. It is a place where the love of Jesus Christ becomes real in the most amazing, funny, and meaningful ways. Nothing else tops it. Especially for those who really need to belong. We belong to each other in the miracle of becoming Christ’s body. We are family.
Christmas is really an adoption story. It is the story of a loving Father who reaches out to His estranged children through His Beloved Son. It is the story of an eternal adoption, by which those who were far away from the Father’s love are brought near by a tiny baby boy who would one day lay down His life for us. It is the story of that glorious reunion of our hearts rejoicing in the love of our doting Father, who gives us His all so that we can have all He is.
This is the miracle I experience everyday at the Wesley Foundation. Come experience it with me.