In Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, Mr. Peggoty, a powerful, big-hearted fisherman, raises his orphaned niece, Little Em’ly. He loves her like his own daughter and he is eagerly looking forward to her marriage to his other adopted son, Ham who is a good, kind man like himself and loves Em’ly with pure devotion. Little Em’ly, however, instead runs away with the deceitful, smooth-talking villain, Steerforth.
She has betrayed Mr. Peggoty and Ham’s love and has disgraced herself forever. Wild in his grief, Mr. Peggoty comes to a resolution:
“I’m a-going to seek my niece.”
“Where?” cried Ham, interposing himself before the door.
“Anywhere! I’m a-going to seek my niece through the wureld. I’m a-going to find my poor niece in her shame, and bring her back. No one stop me! I tell you I’m a-going to seek my niece!”
And so, he leaves everything – his family, his friends, his home, and his livelihood – and goes to seek his niece.
Christ, leaving heaven to come to this earth, goes so far beyond a cute nativity scene. That moment in history is our God’s passionate cry: “I’m going to find my people in their shame, and bring them back. No one stop me! I’m going to seek them!”
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
The Greek word for “lost,” απολωλώς, can also be translated destroyed, killed, or ruined. Like Little Em’ly, we were not just missing; we were absolutely ruined. That baby in the manger had a mission: bring us back.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
Blessings this holiday season to you….