Many years ago when I was the pastor of Soldotna UMC I was asked to come to Soldotna Middle School and read my stories about conflict to the students. It was an invitation I gladly accepted. In my other life I was a middle school teacher before becoming a pastor.
We were discussing one of the stories when one of the students shared the frustration she felt when her parents would ask her every day after school, “Well, how was school today?” The student felt that such a question was almost an invasion into her privacy.
Many of the other students echoed her feelings. But one young lady spoke out, “How would you like it if no one ever asked you how your day went? You guys should be grateful for what you have.” It was a powerful moment.
As a parent of four students I heard again the need for parents to ask good questions. Instead of “How was school today,” I have learned to ask, “What did you do in math class today?” or “What was the most fun thing you did today?”
It is the art of asking questions that many of us need to learn. Perhaps it applies in our relationship with God. For many the most basic question is “Do you believe in God?” I propose a more fundamental question. “God, do you love me?”
This is a question humanity needs to ask this Advent and Christmas. Sometimes we view God as distant and far off. Life is hard and we feel that God is a million miles away. At Christmas God answers our question with a baby in a manger, God’s own Self. He is Emmanuel, “God with us.”
“Do you believe in God?” is a question most of us ask from our minds. “God, do you love me?” is much more personal. It has to do with the deep places in our hearts.
This Christmas will once again answer this question with a resounding, “YES! I DO LOVE YOU!” The answer will be proclaimed from the heights of heaven to our earthly reality no matter how dark.
The pastors and laity of all our Alaska UM churches are in my thoughts and prayers this Christmas. And may the Christ Child be the answer to the question we are asking this year.