A Christmas reflection for Friday, December 29th by Leana Lopez
Lectionary reading for 12/29/2023: Psalm 148; Isaiah 49:5-15; Matthew 12:46-50
Selected passage for reflection: Matthew 12:46-50
Matthew 12:46-50 NIV
46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
One wintry night, the cold and dark seeping into my bones, I was loading plastic bags of donated shampoo and tube socks into my car. Squinting through the icy snow swirling around me, I saw a handful of colleagues and a few straggling teens huddled nearby for warmth. It was my birthday, which also happened to be Valentine’s Day.
I had taken a grad school internship engaging with homeless street youth. Rain, shine, or freezing cold, we all showed up at the planned time, some coming from far corners of the city. We would meet on the designated spot to hang out late into the night, eating peanut butter sandwiches, talking and playing games.
Despite the winter's icy grip, these kids had chosen to brave the cold and meet us on Valentine’s Day. To this day, their courage humbles me. They showed up to be with others and satiate the deep ache for belonging. Looking around me that night, I keenly felt God's presence in our interactions, blessing us for the connections we were forming.
On that night, a few of my closest family and friends had planned to meet me at a bar for a late-night birthday celebration. However, when my fellow interns invited me to warm up at Starbucks, I made a choice to stay. I chose to spend my birthday with the people that were experiencing deep connections to the mission of serving homeless youth alongside me.
In Matthew 12:46-50, I see Jesus in a similar situation. Surrounded by His disciples, His family seeks His attention. His response challenges our understanding of family dynamics. For me, it's empowering because it underscores the importance of chosen family.
We all have chosen families. Sometimes, we choose them when our biological families are distant physically or emotionally. And in other times, we choose these people because we know it is where we find God working and restoring in and through us. Consider those who make up your chosen family and what led you to choose them.
Write down the qualities you seek in a chosen family. Are there recent times where you may have felt authentically yourself in community with others? Reflect on why these individuals are in your inner circle, and consider whether you experience the radical way of Jesus in and through these relationships. How do they help you fulfill God's purpose for your life?
Heavenly Mother, in our brokenness, we come before You, desiring to do Your will and experience Your love through the people we encounter. Lord God, we ask for the strength to be present with our brothers and sisters in Christ, fostering authentic relationships to be Your hands and feet in this world. Help us create a chosen family that reflects the love and mission of Jesus. In Your name we pray, Amen.
About the Author
Leana Lopez is a licensed clinical social worker and healthcare administrator working to provide holistic care for underserved communities in Chicago. She has been supporting social service agencies and healthcare organizations in Chicago for over 15 years, incorporating her spiritual life into her work. In her freetime, Leana likes to watch anime movies with her 2 young boys, walk in forest preserves, and listen to audiobooks while painting. She provides training, consultation and supervision and you can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.