I love me a good singing and dancing show, so I was excited to hear the minds behind “Chicago” were turning their attention to television and a new network series about the theater and Broadway.
So far it has been a fairly good show… two episodes in. One of the “B” storylines is about how one writer, Julia, and her husband, Frank, are seeking to adopt a child from China. They have a teenage son, Leo, and have been talking about this for a long time. In episode 102, the father character begins to have doubts about the length of the process and if it is worth it.
In response, Leo gets angry… He, too, has been looking forward to this new addition to their family. As he talks with his mom, he says very plainly:
you said that my sister is in China, that she’s waiting for us in China. She’s waiting for us to come and get her… What is going to happen to her if we don’t go and get her?
Part of the adoption preparation includes writing a letter to the birth mother. Of course, the child hasn’t even been born yet, and they don’t know who this woman will be, but it is an exercise in planning for their future.
Julia’s letter goes like this:
To the birth mother of my daughter,
Our lives are so far distant from each other. It as if neither of us exists. I will never know you. Even though you will give birth to her, my daughter may never know you as well. But I want you to know, I will guard her like a lion. I will raise her with love. I will protect her from the wounds of lonliness. She will be a child of two lands and she will wear that knowledge with pride. And at night, we will call to you on the wind, and perhaps you will hear us and know that she is safe.
It was a powerful moment, but this whole idea of thinking about a family you don’t know half way across the world got me thinking about our Christian family. We are often willing to imagine our brothers and sisters in Christ as the folks who attend church with us and who live down the street, but we sometimes forget about the ones who are halfway across the world.
When we choose to follow Christ and when we are adopted as sons and daughters of the living God, we become children not of two lands… but two families. We have mothers and brothers and fathers and daughters… but our family becomes wider. Our vision expands. Our hearts grow in the knowledge that somewhere in China or Nigeria or Switzerland there is a sister who is waiting for us… a brother who wants to share in the love of the body of Christ.
I have heard it said sometimes that we should spend less time taking care of people and sending missionaries half way across the world, because there are people in our back yards who need us to. But I think when we embrace the love of God that statement becomes a false dichotomy. Our brothers and sisters are right here in our midst, but they are also on the other side of the planet. If we let go of the boundaries of municipalities and nations… if we let go of the division of race and class… if we began to imagine each child of God as someone who is a part of our family, how might our ministry change? Would we promise to raise them with love? Would we dedicate ourselves to protect them from the wounds of not only lonliness, but war and famine and disease? As Leo asks, “What is going to happen if we don’t go and get her?” What will happen if we ignore our brothers and sisters when they need us the most?