"Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse."
The very last verses of the very last book of the Hebrew Scriptures (aka "Old Testament") are very interesting. One might expect them to point to God's ultimate reconciliation with humanity, bringing about His Kingdom (which it does - 'the day of the Lord'). One might expect it to allude to the coming Messiah (which it kind of does - pointing to a prophet who will help people get ready for that day... a "John the Baptist," maybe!?!). But it also adds something... it mentions a big part of getting ready for God's Kingdom to come is RECONCILIATION between parents & children.
It breaks my heart to know that some parents & children are estranged. The reasons vary, of course: from abuse & neglect to abandonment & betrayal... from addiction & self-destructive habits to lifestyle choices never embraced. Sometimes it's a "mutual decision" to remain distant. Other times the separation is imposed by just one party. Almost all of the time, however, pain, hurt, frustration & sorrow are in the mix.
I love how the last verses of the very last book in the Old Testament speak of this reconciliation between parents & children. That shows me how important it is to God. In fact, you could make the case that the overriding theme of the Bible is reconciliation. Humanity's reconciliation with God. Those 'on the outside' being reconciled as 'insiders. Those lost being reconciled as found. Sinners (ie. all of us!) reconciled as forgiven. I could go on and on...
So my prayer today in this season of Advent - preparing for the coming of Christmas - is that there might be reconciliation for all parents & children... no matter what their ages... or now long they've been distant... or how deep the wounds. Reconciliation doesn't mean allowing oneself to be hurt again... it means offering genuine forgiveness & releasing the desire for retribution. It doesn't mean the absence of justice, but being open for grace to work its wonders.
Could there be a greater gift this Christmas?!?