Tuesday, December 20, 2016

stuart little

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth."  Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"  Philip said to him, "Come and see." John 1:45-46

For over 70 years, it has been a classic read and re-read to generations of children and grandchildren.  E. B. White's Stuart Little is a fantasy novel about a little boy born to human parents, who wo is so tiny that he "looked very much like a mouse in every way."  While he is tormented by Snowbell, the family cat, his experiences turn him into a compassionate person.  Rather than becoming an object of embarrassment for his family, his is completely and totally accepted by them, for who he is, not as they may have wished he had been.  He is an outsider who becomes a central player in this story of hope, love, and acceptance.

In the gospels, Jesus is certainly the ultimate outsider.  Born into poverty, he never really leaves his village until he begins his ministry.  He remarks that he has no place where he can stop and rest.  When Philip rushes to tell his friend about Jesus, and longs for them to meet, Nate cynically dismisses Jesus for who he truly is (in Nate's eyes), an outsider who comes from a nowhere place.

Maybe that's why Jesus was always drawing outsiders to himself.  He called them to be disciples, and he healed them of their loneliness and illnesses.  He invited them to his parties, and accepted their invitations to feast with them.  The religious outsider, the ethnic outsider, the gender outsider, the economic outsider, the political outsider - all were welcomed by Jesus, into Jesus family.  Simply because he accepted them for who they were, not what others might have wished they were.

Perhaps you know what it is like to be an outsider because of your country of origin, your family, your job, your gender, your orientation, your economic or educational status.  Does it make you more sensitive to the outsiders around you; does your experience cause you to reach out to others; do your strive to be the welcome the excluded long to find?

Prayer:  We are so busy explaining exactly why someone cannot be who they claim because of where they come from, Accepting God, that we may miss the grace, the hope, the life they are longing to share with us.  Amen.

(c) 2016  Thom M. Shuman

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