The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. –Luke 2:40
Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,
The Gospel of Luke is where we find the full and beautiful story of the birth of baby Jesus. The story begins with the miraculous birth of John the Baptist and traces how the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, then the angels appeared to shepherds in the night, and finally the wise men arrived from the East. But then what happened? Well, Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus back to their hometown, Nazareth in Galilee. With exception of one episode at the age of twelve, there is no story of how Jesus lived until he was 30 years old and started his ministry. Though we may not know what happen during these 30 years, a lesson can still be gained from this unwritten time in Jesus’s life: growth and change takes time.
During the Christ season, especially the eve and the day of Christmas, we definitely feel a stronger presence of love, or at least strongly desire to be more loving. Often, in this way of being more loving toward each other, we acknowledge the mistakes that we have made throughout the year, especially our own shortcomings. As we endeavor to embody the Godly gifts of hope, peace, joy and love, we become aware of how far from these virtues we may have drifted. We’re granted this knowledge not because God desires that we are self-judgmental and self-condemning due to our mistakes and shortcomings, but because embodying these virtues is key to achieving happiness and fulfillment in our life.
The difficulty comes not in accepting and acknowledging that there are things we need to overcome and change, but in enduring the challenges and persevering until the needed change has been accomplished. God incarnated as a baby, wh0 obviously needed intense care by others and a long time to grow. If you have come to the realization that you need to change a part of yourself, you would need to treat this newly-gained truth like a newborn baby, which cannot survive without intense and selfless care. The most critical period is the first few months immediately after you have decided to make the change. As you nurture your newly-gained truth, it will grow and become strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God will be upon it!
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee