December 26, 2010
One of the blessings and problems of Christmas is all the memories – of Christmas past with family and friends that have passed on, of Christmas present without significant people, and Christmas future and it’s vision of what might be by next year. This Christmas, Sr. Wantabee could not help but think of the two little ones, the infant demises, that did not live to see Christmas day and the dashed hopes of their parents. So close and still so far.
The parents were inconsolable. The grief in the hospital room so thick. There were no memories to fall back on, only dashed hopes of twins that would play soccer with their father, of babies to be carried on the mother’s hip, of a life that would not be lived with the parents on earth.
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of Christmas is that it provides us with a memory, a memory of a savior who was born into a world about as chaotic as ours. Foreign powers and economic problems. Unfair rules displacing people. Where is a person’s home? In a stable? Into that world the Christ child arrived, seemingly as impotent as we are to resolve the issues of his day.
But memories bring comfort and joy because they somehow give us incidents that we can tie our thoughts into. The Christ child survived the horror of the “slaughter of the innocents.” He too experienced a foreign culture. He too lived with a questionable past. And he grew to adult hood, to Easter.
Sr. Wantabee looks at his story finds hope. Not the happy ever after hope that somehow God will wave a majic wand over our world and correct all the problems and suddenly people will love each other and life will be fair. It is the hope of Emmanuel, God with us, in the midst of struggles. God gave us a memory to carry us into the future, he holds. Thank you!
December 21, 2010
Sr. Wantabee thought she understood sadness until the last two weeks when she has sat with young couples at the death of their unborn babies.
One couple the baby was perfectly formed but infection took her before she met the parents. They held that little baby all day and had a naming ceremony before the body had to be given up. The grief in the room left my chest constricted and coughing.
Yesterday it was a 32 week hope that stopped moving and the C-section was done. The baby did not survive. The parents held the little malformed being to their chest and sobbed.
Both couples were from Africa, as was Sr. Wantbee and a deep connection was made. They talked of their dreams. For the father, he was going to play soccer with his twins. For the mother, she was pondering how to carry them across borders. Smashed dreams for the father and mother. The next couple had experienced several miscarriages early but this one they had so hoped would fulfill their dreams. They were from Kenya and we went to the Lord in Swahili.
I could not help but think of the song stanza, “The hopes and dreams of all the world are met in thee tonight.” there are no words for the sadness of the child who does not see light. Thank God it will not always be so.
December 20, 2010
Sunday was Sr. Wantabee’s last 24 hr. on call at the hospital. She had the priviledge of preaching on Matthew 1:18-25, the barebones Christmas text. It’s not the cute Luke text with shepherds and angels and inn keepers but straight to the point.
Matthew starts with the lineage. These are the “good guys” but Mary has to go to Joseph and have the DTR (define the relationship) talk. Or perhaps Joseph went to Mary with his and everyone else’s observations. Mary was pregnant and not by him. Houston, we have a problem!
It’s a common story we can identify with. Not the pregnancy out of wedlock perhaps but the DTR discussion. The doctor comes in and says, we need to talk. The boss invites us into the office for a talk. We open our bank statement and realize there has been identity theft. We get our savings statement and realize our retirement is gone and we will still need to work. Houston we have a problem. It’s not just Joseph and Mary this Christmas time but it is all of us. It is over in Afghanistan but it is also in our homes. Things do not always turn out the way we planned or wanted or dreamed of. Sr. Wantabee met with a couple at the hospital who had to have a C-section. Something was wrong with the 32 week pregnancy. In fact the child, the dream, the hope, the first child died. We are devastated. What to do?
Joseph had three options. He could just have Mary stoned. Anger is always a choice but does it resolve the sense of betrayal? Does it create relationship or destroy it? Problems can be hid in the closet but they will still creep out as the most inconvenient time.
Rather Joseph decided on option two. As a “righteous” man, he decided to dismiss Mary quietly. Denial! As Sr. Wantabee thought about this, she pondered, since when is dismissal in small time America a quiet thing or a kind action. Mary was labeled and would live her life as a prostetute! Denial does not solve a problem but only ignors it. It is not “righteous” but makes a person think he is “righteous.” God does not deny our problems and we continue to scream, “Houston, we have a problem!”
Third option is the angel who whispers in our dreams, “This is of the Lord. Do not be afraid.” God does have a plan for salvation and the name is Jesus. But we want the solution now. We want the happy ever after now. We want things resolved now. We want the job now. We want peace now. We want love now. We don’t want to wait. We don’t want to lean into our plights, trusting that somehow God is working for our good. that’s hard.
Joseph decides to lean into his situation and names the Christ child, “Emmanuel, God with us.” God is with us, not above us, not below us, not pushing us, not pulling us, but walking with us as He works out Salvation.
Which way are you leaning?