Face to face
1 Thessalonians 3: 9-13
9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
The tradition of getting together with family at Christmas is one that is often fraught and tense for many. However, any arguments or frustrations that we might dread might be put into perspective as we read about Hamza in this year’s Christmas Aid appeal from Christian Aid.
Hamza Essa’s family was ripped apart by the war in Syria. The family settled at Hamza’s grandparents house near Damascus. They stayed there for a year before moving to Lebanon to join two of Hamza’s siblings who had moved there. Two of Hamza’s sisters stayed behind in Syria.
Of the five children who came to Lebanon, one sister has since moved to Germany, one brother and sister have moved to Sweden, and one sister remains in Nahr al-Bared camp in Lebanon with Hamza and his parents.
Hamza misses his sisters and brothers, especially his brother who lives in Sweden. ‘We talk on the phone but I miss them a lot. When my brother travelled from here to Sweden he was 18 years old – and now he is 23 years old and I haven’t seen him. It’s been a long time. I miss him.’
I’m reminded of Hamza’s story when I read these words in the letter to the Thessalonians. These words express a profound longing to see each other again. To see each other face to face.
The tradition of family get-togethers is not exclusive to Christmas and certainly not to Western society. This year as we gather I’m going to say a prayer of gratitude and a prayer for Hamza’s dispersed family that he too longs to see face-to-face.
Accompany those displaced,
waiting to return to their land.
Accompany those living as refugees
waiting to find home.
Accompany those living through conflict
waiting for peace.
Accompany those enduring violence
waiting for calm.
Accompany those missing loved ones
waiting to see them face to face.
Accompany us God through the waiting
until your kingdom comes in fullness.