Always Surrounded by the Odd
The day commemorating Jesus’s arrival in human form is almost upon us. We are preparing our hearts for what this means for us as His followers. We are likely preparing more mundane things as well. Many of us will gather with family and friends and celebrate in community. Jesus too at the beginning had a gathering. First, let’s look at some of the people the adult Jesus gathered around Himself.
The most notable group of odd fellows that surrounded Jesus was the apostles. These 12 were not exactly the upper crust of society and hardly one’s you would think to be responsible for building a world changing movement. Yet here they are surrounding Jesus and specifically picked by Him to assist with His ministry.
Jesus did not limit his selection of the outcast to just these 12 dicey fellows. No, He consistently broke bread and placed himself in relationship with those whom society rejected. Women, tax collectors, all manner of assorted sinners and miscreants were those surrounding Jesus. It is also true that He welcomed and took support from those that had wealth and power, Jesus never limited His ministry or His outreach. Yet, He placed special emphasis on those least in society.
Diversity was a Thing From the Beginning
The types of people the adult Jesus gathered around Himself was similar to His very first gathering. That first gathering was one seriously diverse crowd. There was of course the high born among them in the form of the three kings. There were the more humbly born in the form of the shepherds. There were the angles from on high, perhaps representing the Father Himself. And what gathering is complete without some animals about? All of this is very telling of the nature of the God we follow. He is calling everyone to gather around Him and all are welcome.
It is certainly true that the noble were and are welcomed but what really stands out is the lowly that are also welcomed right alongside the nobility. This would become a hallmark of Jesus’s ministry.
Our Christmas Lesson
My point in bringing this up is that the birth story makes clear that Jesus was surrounded by a diverse and often socially unacceptable group of people from the beginning. The lesson for us could not be clearer. God calls all into relationship with Him through His Son. Yet, most notably, He calls those whom the world looks down upon. It does not matter to God or Jesus that these are society’s “rejects”. It does not matter how “noble” or “lowly” they are.
If a crowd such as this is good enough for God and His son, especially at His birth, then this diversity should be good enough for us. As we move forward from Christmas let us endeavor to keep close to our hearts that this fully human God invites all into relationship with Himself. Let this earthly example be for us the template of our lives; that we should especially seek out those least among us for special care and concern as we try as best we can to live out our faith in response to God’s gifts. This may be the best Christmas gift that we can give ourselves; to follow in the footsteps of a God who invites all of humanity, in all its wonderous diversity, to gather around Him in faith and community.
Praise Be to God