Last weekend, Pastor Oscar Murio of Nairobi Chapel in Kenya gave a fabulous sermon entitled "An Inconvenient Truth" when he was visiting our church. I heard it twice, because my husband was singing in the choir and I decided to hang around for both services. This is my attempt to reflect and summarize the message.
A few weeks ago, we watch the movie An Inconvenient Truth, the popular Al Gore documentary about climate change. (I think this is a must-see for everyone, but that's not the point right now.) Gore's point in the movie was that global warming is true and completely undeniable (and this was confirmed by my meteorologist husband), and because it is true, we must act to stop it, but that is terribly inconvenient, because we must choose to change or give up some of the conveniences we are used to.
Murio's point was similar. Mary and Joseph had this great life ahead of them. They were engaged to be married, like I was this time last year. They had plans, surely. Their families were excited. Then an angel brought an inconvenient truth into their world: "Mary, you're pregnant, even though you've been chaste and faithful to your fiance." That threw a wrench in the works. Joseph saw the convenient thing to do was to call the whole thing off, but then another inconvenient truth appeared: an angel in a dream tells him to marry Mary.
Each of these things were inconvenient, but commanded by God. Mary and Joseph left room in their lives for this inconvenience, and followed what God said. But life did not become easy after that. A census was decreed, and an inconvenient journey had to be made, 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Mary about to pop. When they finally arrived, another inconvenient truth faced them: there was nowhere to stay in the city. They ended up in very inconvenient lodging: a cow stall.
Well, the baby came, angels sang, shepherds showed up, and all happened as God had said. A couple years later, another inconvenient decree came from Herod and the family had to leave the country for Egypt for a time to save the life of their son.
The point? Following God can be pretty inconvenient. Being a part of God's story, and letting Him work in our lives to accomplish His purposes can throw off our own plans and cause us plenty of hardship. The question I was faced with when I heard this message was, do I leave room in my life to embrace hardship when it comes? Do I do it joyfully? Am I willing to serve God when it's hard?
Murio said this time last year, he and his wife adopted a 5-year-old little girl- an orphan abandoned at birth by her mother. The catch: she was an AIDS orphan, and has HIV herself. This is a hard thing, and inconvenience, they chose to bring into their home and literally embrace. They were warned at the orphanage "Watch out for the body fluids-- they will infect you!", and in the first months, if she wet her bed, or scraped her knee, or vomited because of the regimen of medicines she had to take, instead of running to help as new parents do, they'd run away and get surgical gloves, then carefully help her. They couldn't kiss her on the lips. Now they have decided, she is our daughter and we are embracing her, and are somewhat less paranoid.
This pastor brought an inconvenient child into his home, just as Mary and Joseph did, and he, as they, embraced the inconvenience that God brought them. Would I?