Matthew 2:13-15 tells the story of Mary and Joseph’s flight to Egypt after Jesus’ birth. In this passage we see echoes of God’s love for his people Israel and God calling them out of Egypt as recorded in the book of Exodus. But we also see that Jesus and his earthly family experienced the hardships of life in a difficult land. They experienced homelessness and persecution, and at least for a while they were immigrants in a strange land. This reality is comforting to me as we look at the church today.
It is easy to look at the news and become discouraged. The pace of natural and human-caused disasters seems to be increasing, disrupting the shalom of God we all crave. In the midst of this, we see people fleeing their homelands and striving to find peace and safety wherever they can.
The Christian Reformed Church is a microcosm of the universal church, and in it we see glimpses of God’s work manifesting in this current reality. We see local churches growing in diversity, congregations reaching out to their communities, new churches being planted, and immigrants and refugees being advocated and cared for. I thank God for passionate saints, in the CRCNA and beyond, who show deep love for their neighbors by these actions.
In this issue, you will see a picture of the growing diversity of the CRCNA. Of our slightly more than 1,000 churches in Canada and the U.S., more than 330 self-identify as either multicultural or predominantly minority. Most of our denomination’s new churches are in this category.
This diversity is something to celebrate, as is the unity we find in our shared passion for God’s kingdom and our mutual commitment to reach others in the communities where God has planted us.
As the church universal heads into this Christmas season, I leave you with Jesus’ prayer for his disciples not long before his arrest: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23).
May we live into the reality of Jesus’ prayer and his longing for us to be together in community.