At this time of year, we think of babies, particularly the baby Jesus. My sons were born in the 60s which was during a time of great civil unrest because of racial discrimination. I remember clearly the news stories each night of Americans fighting in the streets. As a young mother, I feared for my babies and wondered what kind of world I was bringing them into. I looked for hope for my children.
We remember Mary, the young woman about to give birth. In a short time she would give birth and then she and Joseph would be forced to flee into Egypt for safety from an evil ruler who sought to kill the baby. This young mother hoped her son could be spared to fulfill the promise made to her by the angel Gabriel.
Babies have always been born into a world with its human evils, with discriminations, and with rejections.
It will always be so. But it is up to each of us to live in hope, to give hope to others, and to be blessed by the birth of the baby who we celebrate this Advent season, the Hope of Christ.
Will you do your part? There are some things we cannot change, and we are not responsible for. But there are things we can do and things we can change. We can change how Christians deny women full equality. We can do that. We can make it a better world for girls, mothers and daughters.
With Christianity on the decline, and false teachings flourishing, we must return to the cradle and look again into the face of the newborn babe.
Sometimes you just have to start all over. We see that in the birth of Jesus. A new start. God was still there, He still loved His people, but they had taken a path that was far from the core message. Read Matthew 23 and see the condemnation Jesus gave the religious leaders.
What would Jesus say to us today? We have messed up his message! We have taken the love that God has for all his people and have distorted that love into a message of rules and laws – just as they had. We have forgotten the greatest commandments.
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 22:37-39)
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Now, I want you to imagine this. A black Christian family moves next door to you and you invite them to church. They arrive after you get there. You greet them and tell them how glad you are to see them, take their money in the offering plate, and introduce them around. Then you hand them a list of restrictions and things they cannot volunteer for because certain volunteer jobs are held for White and Asian and Hispanic people only – everybody but blacks.
How do you think the black family feels? We all know that is wrong. Christians used to do that in churches (actually they would not even let the black family inside the door). But we cannot do that anymore. We have changed in our thinking and our understanding of human rights.
So, while we cannot do that – and it was government laws that required the change, not Christians – we can still bar women from doing any volunteer or professional job in the church. Just because we want to – claiming a biblical reason for doing so. Just as we used a biblical reason for barring blacks.
The cradle is empty – time to unswaddle the babe
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…” (Luke 2:10-11)
It is time that we remember that the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” This baby was going to upset everything and turn the world upside down. And he did. But we continually swaddle the babe because we have ignored his greatest commandment “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Will you give hope to women who daily face the discrimination that is birthed in churches, denying them full honor and responsibility of serving Christ as pastors and deacons, and from full equality in their own homes?