When we think about Christmas, specifically the Nativity of Jesus, we often have this pretty imagery of a cute baby surrounded by barn animals, swaddled comfortably in a manger. However, we often forget the scandalous nature and timing of Jesus’ coming.
Mary was pregnant out of wedlock, the Jews were under oppressive rule by the Romans, never mind the fact that Jesus' lineage was riddled with characters that most of us would be ashamed to call our relatives - Jacob was a thief, Rahab the prostitute, Ruth the foreigner, David a killer and adulterer, Bathsheba an adulteress, Solomon an idolater... And any one who has visited a manger surrounded by barn animals will tell you that it is not a pretty sight. The smell itself must have been unimaginable!
Years down the road, Jesus would grow up to rebel against the self-righteous religious teachers of the day, be betrayed by his own followers and eventually be sentenced to death on a cross. Everything seemed to turn out horrendously!
Yet we celebrate Jesus Christ’s first coming because it is a message of hope despite the difficult circumstances. We are reminded that no matter how bleak the situation is, God can, and will restore a sinful world. The Bible reminds us that God is in the habit of using the foolish, lowly and despised in the world to shame the wise and the strong so that the one who boasts can only boast in Christ. I often hear Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, say that we should aim to do poverty-alleviation projects so impossibly ambitious that when accomplished, it will be evident that God's hand was upon us. And of course, when Jesus Christ Himself arose triumphantly from the dead, it demonstrated that God's ways are always far higher than our ways. Indeed, with God, everything is possible.
Like any other year, 2016 came with its own set of ups and downs. Yet I remain convinced that if Habitat is God’s work, He will make things come to pass. He will work through people, by inspiring people who are made in His image and likeness including those who do not know Him well - to share in the joy of being blessed in giving rather than receiving. Despite having a small staff team of no more than 14 people, I am blessed to witness how God has brought alongside key partners, board members, supporters, volunteers and ambassadors who share our heart for low-income families and the elderly in need of care and a safe shelter to call home.
As the year draws to a close, I do hope you will be able to take the time to contemplate and give thanks for the astonishing, life-changing and world-changing gift that can be found in Jesus Christ. I invite you to continue to support us in this most rewarding journey in life, as we strive to serve even more people made in God's image and likeness. We fully intend to continue to do seemingly impossible and ambitious projects together with all our volunteers and partners, so that we can continue to marvel at how God works in our lives.
May we never try to limit God to what we think is possible.