Monday, December 14, 2015

What a difference...

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I recently shared in a brief, but timeless, conversation with some new parents.  As they carried their tiny one out of a church building, I mentioned how different next Christmas will be for them. This Christmas, they have the joy of a tiny baby who is filling them with awe and poopy diapers. Next Christmas?  By next Christmas, their child will be just old enough to start understanding things like pretty wrapping paper under the tree and shiny things on the tree.  Surely by next Christmas their babe-in-arms will have grown into a full-fledged toddler.  By then, their house will be baby-proofed and the word “No!” will become the most-frequently used term in their little family.

By next Christmas, their whole view of the season will have changed radically.  By then, their new baby will be so much a part of them that won’t be able to imagine life without their child. And, it’s just possible, their conversations may have already moved from the joy of one baby to the dream of more.  (We have a saying at our church, “If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t drink the Stone Ridge water!”)

It has been a little over four decades (it sounds SCARY when I say it that way!) since I stood with wobbly legs in a maternity ward delivery room and watched with a combination of fascination and horror as our family of two suddenly became a family of three.  I will never forget how the impending birth of our first-born became more and more of a reality to me.  The last trimester was like my own awakening to what was about to happen.  Still, I wasn’t prepared for what happened that October morning.  We entered the hospital as a couple; we left as a family. While our baby was much longed-for and deeply loved, the weight of responsibility landed heavily upon me that day.

As a husband, I had a wife who was quite adept at caring for herself (still is!).  As a dad, I was suddenly responsible to do my part to raise our new baby. Our son needed me in a way that couldn’t be neglected.  Most everything would change because of his addition to our family. Though our son’s first Christmas found us struggling through a blinding snow storm, it was those everyday necessities that impacted us the most. What sticks out in our memories are the dramatic events — the broken arm, the sliced head, the first day of school — and yet, it was the small, mundane-yet-inescapable responsibilities that filled us with both joy and work.

Have you ever stopped to think about what changed with Joseph and Mary after the shepherds and the swaddling clothes and the manger?  Have you considered the normal responsibilities every parent faces, along with the load of raising the Son of God?  It’s mind-boggling to consider.  Mary had a baby and He was the Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of the world.  In the past few weeks, we have seen how the Lamb impacted the far-off Magi from the land of ancient Babylon.  We have acknowledged His obvious threat to Caesar, the most powerful man on the planet.  And we have seen the abrasions He brought to the leaders of His religion.  But what about His family?

What about His family?  We must pause and think about what it must have been like to raise the Lamb.  That’s the focus this weekend at Stone Ridge Church.  We hope you can be there this last weekend before Christmas.  Please invite a friend to join you!  Can’t make it? Catch the podcast.

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