The visit of his family during the recent holiday season led Ed, my neighbor next door, to give certain family members name labels. His list of family name labels goes something like this: the really old timers; the gadget-obsessed separatists; the tireless talkers; the constant correctors; the silent, living ones; and last of all, the forever awkward angels.
According to Ed, the really old-timer relatives know you from your beginning as a fat baby. They look at you with knowing eyes. They remember how you kept taking your diaper off. They tell everyone of how you bit the mailman so that he needed stitches. They always mention how you were mean to your baby sister and how you got expelled from high school for a week.
It used to be that kids in a family from ten to forty were just a little self-centered; now, they are gadget obsessed. No matter where they are or what they are doing, they are glued to a device. They live in their own world, while the relatives ignore them. Don't talk to them; don't disturb them; they have no idea who you are or why you are there any way. They just want to be separatists in their own world of technology.
Ed has the most affection for the silent, living members of a family who only mutter a few polite words and then miraculously listen to whatever is said by the tireless talkers. They escape the constant correcting of the correctors by not talking and never feel compelled to comment or smirk at the forever awkward family angels.
Every family has those disturbing angel types who are always upsetting the situation and a bit of an embarrassment. They are not only extremely noticeable and different, but most of all, they say those things everyone thinks but would never say as the truth hurts.
I told Ed that God is like a really old-timer relative who knows everything about you. Some relatives have been around a lot longer than we have been around. God has always been around and will always be around, as God is described as eternal without beginning or ending.
John the Baptist, a relative of Jesus, was one of those awkward family angels known as a prophet. John appeared in the wilderness and proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As a prophet, John was awkward in that he was extremely strange and unique. Clothed with camel's hair and sporting a leather belt around his waist, John ate locusts and wild honey. He preached repentance to the people. John was seeking to prepare the people for the coming of the Christ, or Messiah, among them.
Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. Jesus came as the one sent from God to rescue all people from their willingness to be separatists from God through sin. In his baptism, Jesus was willing to be one with the sinners of the world, although he was sinless himself. As the Son of God, he would obey God's laws for us, so he could be a sinless sacrifice on the cross for us sinners. God in heaven was not embarrassed by His son Jesus, but said at his baptism, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."
Perhaps the labels that matter most come from God and they describe us as a beloved son or daughter through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
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