This is the fourth topic I’ve attempted to write on. I can’t seem to stay focused on anything. It probably doesn’t help that my wife is timing her contractions a few feet away, trying to determine if we might be headed to the hospital sometime tonight. After three different doctor’s visits telling us the baby would arrive any day now, all of which started before Thanksgiving at 36 weeks, we’re trying to find some humor in the fact that this baby may end up being late. I think I’m having an easier time with that.
When we first found out that we would be having our second child near Christmas, I groaned. Once a birthday gets close to Christmas it seems like it just gets swallowed up. Sure you get a mention at Christmas dinner and your present is a little bigger, but everyone knows that’s not why people are gathered.
More than just the Christmas thing, I was fighting feelings about bringing a child into this world. My Adventist inclination to believe the sky is falling isn’t sitting well with our current national climate these days. I know my fears are slightly ridiculous, but I think we all know something is rotten about the world in ways that it wasn’t not that long ago. It’s easy to get swept up in all the horrible things taking place in this world. Our hearts weren’t meant for this. Do I really want to introduce a sweet and innocent child into all this? What if things get worse…not better?
Peace On Earth
In my work I design Bible courses for online students. Lately I’ve been working on the nativity story. It’s been fitting that this has come around the Christmas season and as the birth of my son approaches. One of my goals is that students strip away all the tradition and myths about the story, and see it as it really was.
What a story it was. The circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth were brutal. King Herod was so evil that killing babies who threatened his rule wasn’t abnormal behavior. The Romans ruled an increasingly hostile Jewish population. Militant groups would arise every so often only to be squashed out by the unstoppable Roman army, that would eventually wipe out the entire city of Jerusalem. The religious leadership didn’t provide any hope for the people. Instead they provided heavy chains which burdened them as much, if not more than the taxman.
Ultimately, Jesus’ life would bear testimony that the solution to these difficult times was not a mighty king, an armed rebellion, or strict religious rituals. This child, Jesus, would become a man whose incredible love transformed not only the nation of Israel, but all of mankind. Jesus confronted the great wickedness of His day by wandering throughout a small corner of the world, on the edge of the Roman Empire, loving the poor, the oppressed, the sick, and the broken.
Time for Love
I don’t know what the future holds for my child, but it doesn’t bother me that he will be a Christmas baby anymore. The Christmas story of the Bible is the story of a world full of hatred, corruption, and all sorts of evil. When read in that light, Jesus’ birth becomes a story of a daring assault on darkness. God, displeased by the state of affairs, chooses not to withdraw from our wretched planet but to shower it with His love. Jesus’ birth signifies that evil will not go unchallenged, and that love will triumph.
Whatever unrealistic expectations I end up placing on my son, being the savior of the world isn’t one of them. But perhaps, if I raise him as Jesus has called me to, his pocket of the world will be a little brighter, a little kinder, a little more like the kind of world Jesus came to build. If I can raise a child to do that, then Christmas is the perfect time for him to be born.
Update: Shortly after writing this, my son was born. He hasn’t changed the world, but he’s changed our family already.