Some “Different” reflections on Christmas…
“Different” Reflection #1 – A Foreigner
This weekend before Christmas 2012, I will have been here in Brazil for 2 months.
Over the past year, the Lord has done some pretty amazing things to confirm that He wanted me here, and He has demonstrated that in supernatural ways. You can read more of the story on my ministry website at, www.yourservantinchristmnistries.org.
And, my reception here in Brazil has been truly a blessing, and very humbling. The people have welcomed me and opened their hearts and their homes to me in wonderful ways.
But the reality is, that I am a foreigner here. I am trying desperately to learn the language. I am still praying for the supernatural gift of language, but in the meantime, I’m working on it.
I tried to explain to the folks here when I first arrived that “everything you don’t even think about, is new to me.” Everything. Food, cooking, shopping, cleaning, customs, expressions, bathroom things. And with the newness comes the stresses of trying to learn and get things right.
There is the issue of communication. Not only the challenges of language, but making sure that we really do understand one another. The presumption on other’s parts that I know what is going on… the schedule, the routine, the way to dress, all of the things, again that others take for granted, it is most of the time forgotten that I have not clue!
Consider the fact that I live in a house by myself, without much means of transport other than my feet (which over the years have not been used to going barefoot or with sandals), so I am isolated here and completely dependent upon others for most things. My last haircut was 6 weeks ago… I really need a haircut, but I have no idea where there is a barbershop near where I live, and I am not ready yet to just wander the streets looking. I am dependent on others for the shopping needs other than what I can get at the store that I can walk to. But they do not have some items I need, so I am dependent upon others and their schedules to take care of those issues.
The isolation also plays a role in my own feelings. I have to remind myself that it has only been 15 months since Marilou died. Part of our relationship was we could just “be” together, we could talk about things. Now, there is no one most of the time. And those who are here, because of language and culture do not understand and cannot connect with the things that I feel deeply. So this deepens the sense of isolation.
Now, what does that have to do with Christmas? Maybe you have already gotten the connection. The Apostle John puts it this way in his gospel, He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. John 1:10-12 (NLT)
The Christmas story is multi-faceted. We so often talk about Emmanuel, God with us, but John reminds us that the reception of this “foreigner” was not without difficulties. Matthew records the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 8:20 that Jesus did not even had a place to rest His head.
He had communications issues too, even His disciples did not understand Him most of the time. The religious leaders certainly did not.
Emmanuel, God with us was a foreigner in the world He made by the breath of His mouth. A word of comfort to all who may feel like strangers in this world as well. Indeed, we are made for a different world, and Peter reminds us that we are pilgrims and strangers here (I Peter 2:11).
This Christmas season, let us take great comfort in the truth that the One who was a foreigner in His own creation has gone before us to prepare a place for us with Him where we will never be foreigners, or strangers, or alone, or isolated. It is all part of the story of Christmas.