In an historic moment in time, Hanukkah was celebrated during the same time as our celebration of America’s National Thanksgiving Day. That is a happening that will not occur again in a very, very long time. I hope that all of you who were able to be with your families to celebrate these two holidays – one religious and one National. For those of you separated from your families because of deployment or other assignment conditions, be assured the members of our Association lifted you up in our prayers.
One of the holy days in the Christian tradition is the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus from Nazareth, the son of Joseph and Mary. History took little note of this birthday. The writers of the Christian books called the Gospels tell the story of a poor family startled by the response to the birth of their son: a few shepherds, from the lower class of Israeli society, told of an amazing announcement from a chorus of beings from another world; a visit by some eastern magi, whose stargazing mapping of the heavens, following a new star and who left royal gifts; an old prophet and prophetess publically confessing that this was a very special child, one longed for from the beginning promise from God to make creation right again; a quick flight to Egypt, because an insecure monarch was willing to slay innocents to secure his throne; and a bewildered mother who reflected deeply on all these extra ordinary happenings.
Matthew begins his record of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth with a portrait of the ancestors of this child. A list of names of the famous and the infamous, mighty kings and terribly wicked kings, a prostitute and some other women of questionable character form the ancestral portrait of this child, even his mother conceived while not married. This is not a portrait one would hang above the mantle place above the fireplace. Better to put it in the back of the laundry closet, out of sight, like a skeleton in the closet.
The portrait in Matthew’s story is still the picture of the ancestors – the progeny of Jesus. No blood kin, but all adopted into the family he continues to call out of one community, to be part of his family. He alone is the exemplar – the righteous – right with God one. The rest of us in this adopted family take his name as his bride – adulterous, disobedient, and not worthy. However, we feel loved in this family, even when we trouble the family with a love-of-self, we continue to plead for mercy, forgiveness and inclusion.
Those of us in the Christian Community love this community, because in this community where we do not have to be right, we only need to feel the mercy, love, and forgiveness of that family. I encourage you who belong to this family in our Chaplain family to find that Joy has come to the world, because he loved us when we were enemies of this family and our adopting God.
For those of you from different religious traditions we wish for you “Joy, Peace and Love.” Let us know that, given our family name, this is what you expect from us and the way we should be towards you. Have a Blessed Christmas
Herman Keizer, Jr. CH (COL) USA retired