Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Community of Faith

Post by: Cathy Stafford

“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and men.”

Merry Christmas! This is my first venture at writing a blog for sisters and brothers in Christ, and I get to do it at Christmas! I sincerely hope that this message finds you experiencing the peace that comes with the knowledge that Our Savior was born.

It is a few days before Christmas as I am writing this, and it is a busy time for me as it probably has been for you. I work for the Family Ministries program at Broomfield UMC, recently coming on staff after volunteering for many years. I really enjoy interacting with families as well as the children.

Probably because of my new role at the church, I am thinking about Jesus’ family life and childhood a lot lately. The scene of His birth comes to mind of course, due to the season. I am thinking about it differently this year, in more detail and also considering the challenges as well as the joy. I think about Mary and her uncomfortable bumpy donkey ride to Bethlehem. I think of her selflessness hosting many visitors when she was probably so tired after giving birth. I hope someone brought her a meal (maybe a big sandwich) along with the gifts for her baby. And although I haven’t done this much before, I think about the days and years right after the birth of Jesus. Was He an “easy baby?” Maybe super smiley like the precious girl who was baptized at church last week? Or maybe He got fussy near nap time and woke up Mary and Joseph a lot during the night? As a child, did He excel at everything He tried? Or maybe He did not and He got frustrated.

Along with wondering what Jesus was like as a child, I think about Mary and Joseph’s life as parents. I want to think it was easy for them, because they had to witness their son’s death later on. But I imagine they had daily struggles that all parents face, along with all of the joys. Maybe they had times where laundry piled up and they were just tired. Maybe they got grumpy when their kids were noisy. Surely along with those challenges, they had wonderful times of joy. I’m sure, like my husband and me, they had times when their children acted kindly towards someone and they were so grateful they thought their hearts would break.

The fact is that the Bible only gives us a few lines about Jesus as a child and Mary and Joseph as parents. I believe that everything written in the Bible, and everything not written in the Bible, is for a purpose. I see the lack of information about Jesus’ childhood and family life as a gift. First of all, I see it as a gift of privacy for young Jesus and His family. Jesus’ family raised God’s Son on Earth, and their private moments and details remain their own. I also see this lack of information about Jesus’ boyhood as a gift to all parents and families who follow Him. When I consider doing something for my family, I don’t feel like I need to compare my story with the story of Jesus’ family. As a mother, instead of thinking, “What would Mary do?” in any given situation, I can just do my best to apply Jesus’ messages of love and forgiveness.

As much as I hope that Mary and Joseph had an easy time with Jesus and the rest of their family, what I really hope is that they had a faith community like the one we have at Broomfield UMC to support them. I can imagine Mary and Joseph going to worship while other people in their community gave lessons about God to Jesus and the other children. Maybe they got an “evening out” to relax and talk while people in their community did fun things with the children. They didn’t have movies back then for a Movie Night, but maybe the kids had games in the fields while parents got to go out. Maybe there were fun activities and faith lessons during long summer days. I hope there were lots of people in Mary and Joseph’s faith community who chatted with the children and smiled when they listened to them sing, like at Broomfield UMC. Hopefully Mary and Joseph had faith leaders who were ready and willing to answer kids’ questions about God. I hope they had lots of community members they could call on for help, and in turn could help them. I hope they had a community like we have at Broomfield UMC, where children learn that other people are fun and kind and good.

The Bible does not tell us much about Jesus as a child. There are only a few lines that summarize His youth. My favorite is in Luke 2:52, which says “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and men.” This line is such a gift, as it reassures us that as long as we are doing our best to help our children grow, everything is good. At church, I am always witnessing how our children are growing in wisdom. They respond to faith lessons with such a simple and honest understanding of God’s love. They talk about praying at home. Besides growing in wisdom, we can all witness that Broomfield UMC kids are growing in stature, especially when we greet one and realize she is taller than we are! The children at Broomfield UMC constantly grow in favor with us and surely with God.

I am grateful to be in this community with you. I sincerely hope the remainder of this Christmas season fills you with peace. Also, I hope that the New Year brings you moments of joy and laughter. Always feel free to come visit the kids’ programs at Broomfield UMC, as you will find plenty of both!

Cathy Stafford is a church member, friend, daughter, sister, wife, and mother of two elementary-age children. She works as a Program Coordinator with the Family Ministries Team at BUMC, which serves children ages birth to 5th grade and their families

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