The Household of God

Susanne and I have been decorating our house for Christmas for the past couple of weeks. This year we started our Christmas decorating by setting up the tree. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago: when it comes to Christmas trees, we are definitely Fraser fir tree people. Rockefeller Center can have their Norway spruce, but the Martins will stay with the Fraser fir!
We put all kinds of ornaments on our Fraser fir. Some of our ornaments are homemade. Some were given to us. Some we gave to Katherine and Jonah. Some came home from school as art projects. They are made of wood, pewter, glass, plastic, metal, wax, ceramic, and some are stuffed. Others need batteries or hold a photo. Some have been on twenty-seven different Christmas trees and one or two are new. Every year we unpack this assortment and hang them one-by-one on the tree.
Our collection of ornaments reminds me of the church. To be more specific, it reminds me of something I really like about the church. We are a gathering of people who are united in the household of God, and yet have varied backgrounds, worldviews, cultural identities, political leanings, work-a-day lives, personal stories, interests, gifts, and much more.
I like this because a diverse body of Christ is God’s idea. Jesus told the disciples to make disciples of all nations, and that’s what they did. They carried the news of Christ’s death and resurrection into all the world. The church is truly world-wide – and what a gathering of people it is!
One window into this diversity is the church’s wide-ranging Christmas celebrations. In Ghana, a fruit tree in a family’s yard or in the center of a village might be decorated with simple ornaments. In Lebanon, a family might spend the week after Christmas visiting relatives (Some of you might be planning something similar.). In Australia, a family might unwrap presents on the patio then the children might cool off by running through the sprinkler on a summer day. In Saudi Arabia, celebrations and decorations are confined to embassies and private homes. Public displays are very seldom seen. In Germany, families open their gifts on Christmas eve.
I like a Christmas tree full of all sorts of ornaments as a symbol of the diversity of the world-wide church. Like the branches of an evergreen tree holding a collection of ornaments, Jesus holds all of us together in our diversity.
The Martins wish all of you a Merry Christmas filled with hope, peace, joy, and love, trusting that we are…
Growing in Christ,