Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 2:1-18
What do we pray for when we pray for children in other parts of the globe? Do we pray that they might have security or community? Do we pray that they will have access to food and shelter, that they might know the love of Christ in a way that it changes their life? Would we still pray for these things if their fulfillment required we sacrifice our own physical or emotional comfort?
I’m reminded this advent season of the last time I heard Rachel Held-Evans talk. It was at the Why Christian conference in San Francisco. Speakers are always asked the question, “ why are you a Christian?” The first part of her answer was, “Because a young girl in an occupied Palestine said yes.” I’m imagining this girl, barely at the cusp of womanhood, living in a land with a broken and fuzzy history. In a land full of claims, hope, history and divisiveness. I’m imagining a very pregnant young lady being forced to travel on a donkey because the government occupying her land wanted to take a census in order to tax the people living on said land. I’m imagining her giving birth on the ground surrounded by livestock, far from her home and loved ones. I’m imagining raising a child under a military occupation, and that child playing under the watchful eye of soldiers.
It is easy to ignore the circumstances into which Jesus was born. He was Jewish, he was from a land that most of the world currently agrees is called Palestine. He and his parents were forced to Egypt out of fear for his life. Jesus our Lord lived in fear because the leaders on this earth resorted to violence in order to hold onto their power and the land that they believed they held claim to. The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof Psalm 24:1
These fears are by no means foreign to the children living in the same land today. Modern nations are created by the belief that we can claim ownership of something that is the Lord’s. When we truly pray for children around the world, asking the Lord to care for them, it is necessary to do so from a place of humility. For if we do indeed value lives above all else, desiring to care for those made in the divine image of our creator, our actions and posture must reflect this supplication. We must care for the human regardless of what side of a man-made border they were born onto, regardless of what any broken political system may encourage us to do and regardless of what the fulfillment of our prayers requires from us.
May the God of peace and Creator of all break down the barriers in our hearts and lives this advent season. May we truly desire the best for all of God’s creation even when it comes at a sacrifice to us.
— Tirzah Villegas (firstname.lastname@example.org)