When I was growing up in a Lutheran parsonage on the prairies of North Dakota, our congregation hosted mission festivals during Epiphany. One week our family entertained two missionaries: a missionary to Japan who’d been born in China to Lutheran missionaries but then forced out by the communists, and a missionary who’d worked in Taiwan after the closing of the bamboo curtain.
I love this story about Jesus and his parents and am astonished by the author’s deep understanding of the human condition. Mary and Joseph were facing the adolescent years with a most unusual child, and yet we have only this one glimpse in scripture of that time in their lives.
Over the years I’ve taken part in some amazing celebrations. As a native Atlantan, I remember the moment in 1990 when we heard the announcement on the radio that the Summer Olympics were coming to our city. People began honking car horns and spontaneously hugging strangers in the streets.
It was a Thursday morning, and I was preoccupied with writing this article and considering the words of John the Baptist from the passage in Luke 3. John seems so out of place in Advent, I thought to myself. He speaks such harsh words of judgment and repentance when what we truly want to hear is Tiny Tim’s “God bless us everyone” to put us in the Christmas spirit.