Christmas for the unwanted.
Christmas at times brings us unwanted presents. They immediately go to the bottom of the pile -
either destined to be passed on to someone else or, at times, to rest at the bottom of a deep
drawer, there to be forgotten altogether. They have no place in the recipient's affections or plans.
In the human sphere, we are accustomed to hear of unwanted pregnancies. Sadly we also hear of
unwanted children who are destined to live in a home where they sink to the bottom of the pile.
It is helpful to ponder for a moment that, in some ways Jesus was an unwanted pregnancy. It
certainly seemed like that to Joseph who wanted quietly to break his engagement with Mary to
avoid the scandal and difficulties which would follow. As we know, of course, this unwanted
pregnancy was soon accepted by Joseph as a very special, indeed unique, gift from God - good for
us that he had a change of heart!
There is one further scenario to add to unwanted gifts and unwanted pregnancies. That is of a child
who was once loved but who then becomes an unwanted burden or embarrassment: once well
loved but now suddenly out in the cold. Sadly this is the experience at times of sons and daughters
who come out as LGBT and move from the category, 'loved' to 'unwanted.'
The story of Isaac and Esau is one of several examples in the Bible when someone, once loved
and at the heart of the family is excluded, sent away - in effect, disowned by the family. When
Sarah manoeuvres to get Esau thrown out of the family in favour of her son, Jacob, we see the
pain at the heart of a family unable to cope with what God has given. Esau is unwanted. But
significantly God steps in to assure Esau that he is not abandoned or unloved by God, rather he
continues to enjoy God's protection and will know much blessing in the future - outside of his birth
family but still firmly within God's family.
In the Christmas story Joseph is a reminder of the possibility of the unwanted becoming loved and
cherished. A gay son or daughter will sometimes have to endure the kind of dismissal undergone
by Esau - but never by God. God was in at the beginning; God gave each one of us as a gift,
whatever our sexual orientation, and he always offers his protection and blessing, often particularly
so if, for some reason we are unwanted and abandoned by our birth family.
ithin the Christmas story lies the prayer that the followers of Jesus will learn to be more like
Joseph, indeed more godlike! To be like Joseph who had his eyes opened to see that an
unwelcome, even unwanted child is in fact a special gift from God. In the rich creativity of God we
are blessed by the fellowship of our gay brothers and sisters. The Christmas story calls us, the
church, to receive all our LGBT brothers and sisters with the joy with which Joseph (after initial
hesitation) welcomed the birth of Jesus, and provided for him a loving and secure home.