Dear friends,

Let me first say that I hope as you read this, you are anticipating a wonderful culmination of the Advent season in celebrating the joy of the birth of Christ with family and loved ones. As you may or may not know, last Saturday a federal judge in Texas ruled that because congress had removed the tax provision from the Affordable Care Act as a part of the 2018 tax overhaul, the entirety of the ACA was declared unconstitutional. Thereby adding a dose of uncertainty to the healthcare situations of millions of Americans, not to mention those with special needs and disabilities.

After getting this news late Saturday night, I subsequently learned that a dear friend and mentor, the youth pastor who lead me to Christ, suffered a massive heart attack and stroke, passing away on Sunday morning. I don’t mind telling you that with these two incredibly heavy situations happening simultaneously, my normal Sunday morning walk to Starbucks to get breakfast was filled with much anger, bitterness, and frustration. I sat around and wondered, “How could this be Advent? How can a Christmas exist when so many people find their healthcare under threat? More importantly, how can so many of those that would support and cheer for things like this, simultaneously claim the love and endless mercy of Jesus Christ?”

As I was sitting in church, listening to a beautiful heartfelt, Christmas cantata, it hit me. The trouble is, as we go through Advent, we know how it ends. We are allowed to separate our faith from our daily lives because we know Advent will end up in the birth of Christ. We forget the thin strand on which the Christmas story hung, and how many seemingly random acts of mercy it took to get the Holy family to that stable. What if Joseph had done what he was entitled to; quickly and quietly dismissing Mary? What if Mary had gone the way of teenage mothers through the centuries and found herself in mortal peril? What if the journey from Galilee to Bethlehem had included bandits and raging rivers? (Which, by the way, we don’t know that it did not.)

My point in this, is that as we celebrate Christmas, and one of the holiest times of the year as followers of Christ, let us not get too caught up in the triumph of certainty. Let us remember that God created an incredibly beautiful, complex and wildly unlikely story to bring mercy and salvation in fullness into the world. Perhaps if we remember how fragile that is, it will help us to recall that we are all connected. If I claim Christ and you claim Christ, or if we are humans on the planet, we are all connected. We cannot separate our political views from the mercy we give through Christ or that which we have been given.

I call us all to be better in 2019. Remember that the Christ child came for both our Sunday morning services and our everyday politics. May we understand the beauty and fragility in the Gospel, and the beauty and fragility in our neighbor as well.

Blessing in Christ,

Justin


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