TITLE: No Room In The HOA
DATE: December 19, 2018
TEXT: NIV - Matthew 2: 13 – “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
The Jeremy Morris family believes in celebrating the birth of Christ. A fair number of years ago the family put up a big display at their home in Hayden, Idaho. For five nights leading up to Christmas, from 6 to 8 PM, they would put on a Christmas event. Sure, they had candy canes and Santa and lots and lots of lights… but they also sang hymns and told the story of the Redeemer’s birth.
To see this event, visitors were charged… well, they were charged nothing. Everything was free, unless a “Roman Centurion” approached you and asked for a donation which went to a charity for kids with cancer.
Eventually the Morris family decided to move… and take their celebration with them. It was a decision which was not well received when they moved into a new home which put them under the direction of the West Hayden Estates Homeowners Association. In short order the Morris crew received a letter saying the Association didn’t want them to push “their religious beliefs on others…”
An earlier draft of that letter had said, “And finally, I am somewhat hesitant to bring up the fact that some of our residents are avowed atheists and I don’t even want to think of the problems that could bring up … we do not wish to become entwined in any expensive litigation to enforce long-standing rules and regulations and fill our neighborhood with the riff-raff you seemed to attract over by Walmart … Grouse Meadows indeed!!! We don’t allow ‘those kind’ in our neighborhood.”
Letters like that, coupled with threats against their lives, married to people referring to them as “the enemy”, brought the matter to court. It took years before a decision was rendered, a decision which awarded the Morris family $75,000.00. The family says they are going to use that money to find a home in a neighborhood which is more Christmas friendly.
I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.
What does that mean? Well, 2,000 years ago Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It didn’t take too long before the Magi showed up in Herod’s court asking to see the “newborn King of the Jews.” Judea, Jerusalem and Bethlehem became very unfriendly places for Christmas. It didn’t take too long before the Lord told Joseph he needed to move his family to a location which was safer.
2,000 years ago, or now… it doesn’t make much difference. The Lord doesn’t force His Son upon any one or any country. If a nation, or even a HOA doesn’t want the Savior, He will move on to a place where He is welcomed.
Maybe that’s what Jesus was talking about when He told the story of the sower. You remember, He said:
…. 11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.(NIV Luke 8: 11, 12, 15)
Which takes me to the end of this devotion. I’ve got to go. Pam wants me to hang the Christmas lights.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may the Holy Spirit touch hearts, minds, and communities so they might be prepared to welcome the Christ Who has come to rescue them from sin, the devil and death. In His Name I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion was inspired by various articles, amongst which is the one written by Judd Wilson for the Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press on November 22, 2018. Those who wish may check out this link which was, at the time of writing, fully active: https://www.cdapress.com/local_news/20181122/jury_sides_with_morris_familyin_this_unusual_christmas_story
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann, one of my long-ago confirmands. He is singing with three brothers. This song comes from the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html