Soul Food for Christmas
By Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
“…the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9b).
I have heard it said that the rabbis say, ‘God created the human because God loves stories.’ We are a people formed by stories, and the best of it is, that our story is big enough to save, heal, renew, and transform.
This time of year, our services of worship often feature the second chapter of Luke and our Christmas story finds the shepherds, working at night. The way Luke tells it, “the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9b). The word we render, ‘glory,’ comes from the Greek word, ‘doxa.’ ‘Doxa’ is used to describe dignity, honor, that which is worthy of devotion, glory. ‘Doxa’ comes from the root, ‘doma,’ which means, ‘an apparent gift.’ Our story says we are able to glimpse the dignity of God—and the giftedness of that dignity in a baby like us.
When we teach children the story, we often bring out a creche and situate each character in a way that shows Jesus in the center. We try to teach children that this Jesus is born ‘one of us.’ I so appreciate Rev. Jorge Mayorga’s recent devotion lifting a theme in central American theologies that we have a Christ born as one of us. Yet there was no room for a poor Christ when they needed shelter to give birth to Jesus. Jesus at the center of the creche forces us to meditate on a Christ of the poor sent to transform the whole creation.
We have a choice: we could make no room for the dignity of God or receive each other in ways that each act of love increases the glory of God. We don’t have to go far to see the need for hospitality for Afghan refugees or for economic refugees. We will have red and blue at our Christmas tables, but if we live by our story, each act of love increases the glory of God in our midst. Please make time for the story in your Christmas festivities. In doing so, we put Jesus in the center again.
In Christmastide, we have the fullness of twelves days to reflect on our reception of the poor Christ, born one of us. Acts of love also consider dismantling systems that get in the way of racial justice and radical inclusion because we are here to receive each other in ways that increase dignity, the glory of God.
I would ask you to pray and consider the UMCOR disaster relief response for those in Kentucky and middle America who suffered the extraordinary losses of recent tornadoes. UMCOR number 901670 will route your gift to its proper impact. Click here to make a donation. Acts of love increase the glory of the Lord. Our story is big enough to save, heal, renew, and transform! Thank you for your faithful ministry. Know that I am praying for you.
In the peace of Christ,
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).