The title of this post will most likely make my in-laws smile. Just about every year at this time we all have a chuckle about those two little words. But I think there actually is an answer to that question.
A Little Background
About thirty-five years ago I started dating the girl who I eventually married. Although we lived in the same neighborhood, we were pretty different. I was blond and she was brunette. My family heritage was English while hers was French. I went to a technical-vocational high school whereas she attended a traditional high school. I was fairly smart, but she was smarter. My family celebrated Christmas on Christmas day, hers celebrated on Christmas eve (that has been a huge blessing over the years - never having to argue over whose family we visited on Christmas day). And the biggie: I was raised Protestant, but she was Catholic. One of the more obvious differences in the two traditions is the Protestant’s complete lack of exposure to Latin.
One Christmas season while we were dating I found myself at her house with her family for their annual tree decorating ceremony (another difference in our families). They were gracious enough to let me join in their tradition. Each person would take an ornament and add it to the tree and then it was the next person’s turn. Then we repeated the process until we were done. I had noticed that there were a lot of home made ornaments, and they all had the name of the person who made them written on them.
Well, at some point I came across an ornament that was a small nativity. Emblazoned across the top was “Gloria”. It’s important to remember at this point that I had absolutely no knowledge of Latin - and after all, a lot of other ornaments had names on them. So I innocently and curiously asked, “Who’s Gloria?”
This got a couple of chuckles in the “Oh, that was pretty clever” kind of way until I said, “No, really. I thought I knew your whole family. Who’s Gloria?” This changed the chuckles to all out guffaws! People were laughing so hard that tears were coming out of their eyes.
I was confused and I wasn’t getting any answers because people couldn’t stop laughing. Eventually someone told me that “Gloria” was Latin for Glory. “You know - as in ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo!’” This was absolutely no help to me, which only brought more laughter. In the due course of time I learned that Gloria in elcelsis Deo means Glory to God in the highest. Lesson learned.
Okay. Now what?
So, how do we go from an ignorance of Latin causing a silly, unanswerable question to my assertion that it’s a real question that has an answer? By examining the very reason for God to live among us in the first place.
The answer, of course, is told in John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Love is the answer. Love is the reason for the glory. Without God’s love, there would never have been a birth of a Savior.
Love. That thing that brings family together. For nearly thirty-five years, now, I have been lucky enough to be present at every Christmas eve family gathering. And at every one the love to be felt is ever-present.
I love the family I grew up with very much, and I enjoy spending time with them. But my “new” family is very different from my birth family. They taught me about love in different ways than I would have otherwise learned had I never known them.
So, now that we know who Gloria is, I think we can rest well knowing that she’s very happy that spirit is felt.