We took the boys the the airport last weekend to welcome home a young soldier who had been deployed to Iraq two times for a total of two years away from home. We don't know him personally, but his mom lives next door to good friends of ours and she was trying to get a big group to come out to give her son a well deserved "hero's welcome home." It was a touching moment and I was honored to be there.
I realized as I stood there watching this young man embrace his mom and his girlfriend, that there's more to a hero's welcome than just fanfare or bells and whistles. It's really more about recognizing someone who has essentially denied themselves for the sake of others. It's about showing these heroes in our lives, "I know you and I see what you've done; I get what you've sacrificed and I am here to thank you for it."
A true hero's welcome could look like lots of things...a crowd waving American flags with banners and yellow ribbons. Two little boys with arms wide open ready to embrace their daddy the moment he steps foot in the door. Twenty students uninhibitedly cheering to see their beloved teacher back in the classroom after an absence.
And perhaps one of the most poignant hero's welcome of all time happened in, of all places, a dirty hay filled stable, with the smell of the animals that dwell there thick in the air. Shepherds, down on their knees in awe after having heard the angels proclaim radically Good News. Magi from far away with theirs eyes on a star, road weary but delighted to deliver their gifts. A young couple relieved just to have a place to deliver their newborn, even if it's the last place they'd chose if it were up to them...
The scene offers no fan fare or glitz. Definitely nothing special. Definitely nothing fit for a baby King. But a hero's welcome all the same. Because the hearts of those in attendance that night were completely and uninhibitedly oriented toward this Promised One. They recognized Who was in their midst and they dropped everything just to be near Him.
I pray my heart will be oriented to Jesus this season too, despite all the distractions and stresses. That I will drop everything that seems so important, just so I can draw near to Him.
Happy Birthday Jesus, my Hero and King, I welcome you into my life everyday; every moment...