Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Advent 2014

Tuesday, December 9


It is rumored that Mark Twain once said:  "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."  My father liked to remind my brother and me that he was a college graduate, a high school English teacher, and a father and therefore knew what he was talking about.  Did I listen to my father?  Did I think he knew what he was talking about?  Looking back through the distorted lens of memory, I would say "yes" (generally).  However, both my parents are dead so I can't actually verify this respectful and obedient status. 

Neither of my parents kept diaries so there is no written record of what occurred at the time, unlike the very prominent record of God's first parenting.  The Old Testament lives on as a permanent record of God's first children:  those He directly created - Adam and Eve - and those He chose to be His own - the children of Abraham.  Despite miracles that continue to astound us, forgiveness in response to gross disobedience, and totally undeserved abundant blessings, the Israelites for centuries broke the heart of their Father.  How could a people led through a parted Red Sea and fed in the wilderness with manna so quickly feel the need to create a calf-god out of melted gold jewelry?  With few exceptions, their descendants didn't do much better, and the Old Testament gives frequent voice to God's regret as a parent.

One of Amy Grant's Christmas songs contains the beautiful line:  "How His father smiled when Christ was born."  Could part of that smile be because God was getting to start over as a parent with a new child?  And what a different child.  A child who could say, "I and the Father are one."  A child who at age 12 is compelled to spend time in the temple and responds to His parents' concern with, "Did you not know that I must be in My father's house?"  A child who constantly sought to know His father's will and then to do it.  "Truly, truly, I say to you, the son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the father doing; for whatever He does, that the son does likewise.  For the father loves the son, and shows Him all that He himself is doing."  A child who pointed the way to His father rather than to himself:  "And when you pray, say:  Father, hallowed be Thy name..."  A child whose obedience was stronger than His instinct for self-preservation:  "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done."  A child whose final words show ultimate trust in God's guidance:  "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit!"  Both parents and children bring who they are to the dynamic we call family and countless diverse relationships result, even when the parent is God.  Jesus shows us how to live as a child.  He listened to His father and believed that He knew what He was talking about.  Jesus's life was a life of emulation of and obedience to His father...who is also our father.  This Advent season may we be reminded that Jesus calls us to do the same.


- Wyc Rountree


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