If Jesus Came to My House: An Advent Reflection
Photo by Flickr user Christian Haugen
[Editors' note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from members of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. The lectionary readings for this post are Isaiah 3:8-15; Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Peter 3:8-18. Keep reading the Bread Blog for more Advent reflections each day.]
While reading the verses for this day of Advent, I recalled a book I enjoyed as a child entitled, If Jesus Came to My House, by Joan Gale Thomas. Originally published in England in 1951, my parents bought this little book in 1956 with its black, white, and red illustrations to read to my younger brother and sister, and me.
In the book, a little boy imagines what he would do “if Jesus came to his house." The boy images that he would treat Jesus as an honored guest, offering him the best seat by the fire, serving him tea, showing him favorite spots in the house and the garden, and playing with the boy’s favorite -- and nicest -- toys. The boy would not let Jesus leave without inviting him to choose the best of these playthings for himself. The book reads:
And then He’d smile and wave goodbye,
and so would end our day—
but all the house would seem to smile
because He’d been our way.
The boy then acknowledges that Jesus can never call on him in the way that he has imagined. He is quickly consoled, however, saying that he can go to Jesus’s house and “sing and worship him and talk with him in there.” And something more -- the tale’s punch line: The boy can invite others into his home, his life; he can reach out to and help them.
And I can make Him welcome
as He Himself has said,
by doing all I would for Him
for other folk instead.
Joan Gale Thomas has taken Matthew 25 and made this powerful scripture accessible to a child -- to all of us children of God:
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Where the child’s story leaves off, the scripture continues, detailing the consequences of failing to care for others:
Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’
Prayer: Oh, God, we wait for the birth of your son, and with Peter "for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home." May we treat others as we would treat you. Thank you, dear Lord, for your abiding patience with us. And when your kingdom comes, "may you find us at peace, without spot or blemish." Amen
Edith Holmes Snyde is a member at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. Visit their website at www.nyapc.org.
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