Glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing Alleluia.
Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.
– Silent Night
I don’t know if you know what Christmas is. Most likely not I assume. At least not the way we know it.
I’m guessing you probably didn’t write letters to St. Nick, pick a tree from a Christmas tree lot or hang a stocking with anticipation of sweet treats. You probably won’t dress in a sparkly red dress or sport a bowtie for a candlelight Christmas Eve service. In fact, December 25th might not look any different than any other day for you.
Imagining you in an orphanage at Christmas has always crushed me. And now, as my family nibbles gingerbread men, sips cocoa, unwraps gifts, and watches Rudolph, you’re heavy on my heart.
But in these moments, God redefines holy in my heart. He also redefines Fatherhood. He reminds me that strung lights, garland and iced sugar cookies aren’t required to experience a true “Holy Night”.
God’s ways aren’t our ways and I accept that there are many things I won’t understand on this side of heaven. I don’t understand why you are where you are, without parents and grandparents to lavish you with love at Christmas, but I do trust Him. I trust His ways are bigger than my ways. That His love is grander than I can imagine. That His birth was the dawn of redeeming grace. So, I trust that He can bless and protect you in ways that I cannot fathom. He’s named Himself, “Everlasting Father”, so we must stretch our understanding of fatherhood, settling ourselves knowing that He fathers perfectly this blessed season.
At this time of year, our weary world rejoices that another baby with humble beginnings was born so many years ago in Bethlehem town. Another baby that the world didn’t seem to have room for. And though He too was born into hard times happening in a hard place, He was love and light and hope, for the shepherds who came that night, and also for you and for me.
I can rest knowing the Father to the manger baby, the One who used a wondrous star to guide kings that first Christmas, still strings stars to shine brightly over us all. From homes in Georgia to orphanages in Guangzhou, from London to Beijing, from open fields to bustling cities, glory streams down from heaven afar this Christmas. These Advent nights are holy the world over, whether in Jerusalem or Chengdu.
We believe that you too, waiting child, are a baby, tender and mild, born to help pierce darkness in our hurting world. You too have great purpose in this world. You are loved and never alone. And, with knowledge of the great Hope that entered our world all those years ago, my family, and so many more, will be on our knees praying for you this Christmas.
Praying that you’ll feel the presence of the son called Immanuel.
That angels will sing over you.
That you’ll have an extra blanket if the nights are cold.
That you’ll catch a glimpse of those stars that shine Glory.
That you are smiled at so often that you learn to smile right back.
That you experience childhood with all its playing, pretending and giggling so hard your belly hurts.
That some soul to connect with will enter your world as an gentle nanny, a loving nurse or an special volunteer.
That you’ll be fed heaping bowls of congee and long strands of broth-y noodles so that your belly stays full.
That someday soon you’ll know the love of family.
That you’ll sleep in heavenly peace.
And that you’ll know true Christmas in your heart.
Though how we experience Christmas might be different this December, glory still streams. Merry Christmas, dear ones.