The Rev. Paula M. Stecker works with the Lutheran World Federation Haiti office in communications and ecumenical relationships. To support Paula, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Often as we walk between the main street, Delmas, and our little side street, we pass by a small soccer match in the middle of the street behind the bakery. These soccer matches are played with a sadly, half-inflated ball striped with dirty tape. My first impulse was to replace it, but that would probably ruin the sport. You don’t want long kicks when the field is only 4 yards wide and 20 yards long. And if the ball looked too new or too valuable would it remain available to this scraggly crowd? The goalie box is marked by two broken halves of a cement block. There are spectators, of course, who cheer and coach as though we were at a grand stadium. And everybody rushes into the “stands” when a car or truck presumes to clear the field.
The imagination is a great gift. God allows us to see things beyond our present reality — to dream of things yet unseen. We can even practice the moves that we would make should that greater reality come to pass. Like little boys passing a weather beaten soccer ball on a dusty street, we sing our songs of praise and lift your prayers of adoration from our dusty, weather beaten, half-inflated lives, proudly wearing the colors of Christ, which are not yet fully visible to the spectators.
The Bible teaches that “Faith is hope in things unseen.” Like a tiny baby, wrapped in rags and laid in a bed of straw, before whom kings bowed and laid precious gifts and over whom multitudes of angels sang their heavenly choruses. Their hope was in the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God who would be a Savior. And it was visible only by faith. Christmas demands our imagination.
Today we baptized five young saints, marked them with the cross of Christ and welcomed them into the royal priesthood. Afterwards there were some goodies and simple gifts and it was glorious.
The Stecker family, having been blessed to celebrate Christmas together, hope that you will have a blessed and holy imagination into the New Year!
Paula and Carl, Chantal and Valerie Stecker