A Christmas Thought for Orphans,
Prodigals, and Pilgrims
Hail! the heav’n born Prince of peace! Hail! the Son of Righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, Risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die: Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King! Charles Wesley
And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
It’s not a coincidence that we chose to feature the Palmer Home as our cover story this month. Christmas, children, orphans, hope, deliverance, and restoration—the message of Christmas is the mission of the historic children’s home in Columbus, Mississippi, as well.
We Believers have greatly romanticized the Christmas story of the young couple alone in a strange city without the support of family and friends at a critical time in their lives. Nativity scenes always depict a serene and rested Mary, a protective and beaming Joseph, and the Little Lord Jesus of “no-crying-he-makes” fame. It probably wasn’t quite so perfect at the time. At best, it was a very odd way for the King of Creation to enter the world of wayward and fickle humanity. After all, most of us have the fleshly tendency to be incredibly impressed with the finer luxuries of life. Who would expect royalty to wear such a disguise?
But I have noticed that God frequently veers totally off the predictable path. Isaiah tells us plainly that His ways are not our ways, that, “His understanding no one can fathom,” and Psalms reminds us, “From everlasting to everlasting, He is God.” Bottom line, He is God—always and forever.
Matthew 6 tells us that nothing escapes his notice, that even when a sparrow falls to earth, He sees. He knows the number of hairs (or the lack thereof!) on every head. He knows; He sees; and the thing that differentiates Him from the “gods” of every other religion out there, is that He cares deeply. He is the Shepherd who has a flock of many, but will go in search of the one little sheep who is lost. Lost sparrows, lost sheep, lost people. No other Being loves like this One.
I’ve learned a lot in the last two or three years about orphans. From the story we did in 2016 about the Reclaimed ministry from Starkville and the orphan crisis in Lesothos, my eyes were opened to the fallout produced by the AIDS epidemic in Africa. This past year we did a story on ChildX, a crisis precipitated by parents whose issues result in abandoned and neglected children who resort to everything out there in order to simply survive. Then there’s Jonah’s Journey, which we cover in this issue. Minor children are left behind when a parent’s world comes apart at the seams.
The “orphan crisis” is on our doorsteps, and there are layers and layers and differing circumstances that don’t fit neatly into just one category. What I love most about Palmer and Drake Bassett, whom you will meet in our cover story, is that their great and sincere passion is to find a way to meet the multitude of needs with the tailor-made and loving solution that will restore the innocent lives that are caught in the crossfire of situations they did not create. You will be touched, and hopefully moved, to act.
December will race by. It always does, and I am determined not to miss Christmas by allowing myself to be distracted by the noise of the world and the tyranny of the urgent which is NOT that urgent in light of what matters most. Be intentional—that’s my message.
My inspiration comes from those sisters in the gospels, Mary and Martha. Martha was the one fretting over the details. She wanted everything to be “Pinterest” worthy, and Mary wanted only to sit at the feet of Jesus and soak it up—the wisdom, the love, the warmth. Jesus did rebuke Martha for her “worry about many things.” He told her that just one thing was needful and it was the best thing.
The best thing is to worship, to listen, to pay attention, and to know Jesus in a deeper way when the day is over. After all, time with Him is time never wasted. It is also the one thing that, in Jesus’ words, “will not be taken away.” Never. Ever.
Merry, Merry Christmas from Mississippi Christian Living!