December 24, 2017

Advent 2017

"Figuring It Out Together"

I remember it well - all nine months.

We knew about our first child long before she was born. The home pregnancy tests were blue, and our doctor confirmed - Nicki and I would be having our first child.

When we told family and friends, people were ecstatic. We got calls, visits, social media messages, "congratulations" at work from colleagues and students.

People made plans.  We had baby showers from work, from church, from Nicki's family and friends, and from my family and home church. We were flooded with gifts,  and we were so thankful.

We were super busy. We had to paint a room, read a book on pregnancy, pick out nursery decorations, read a book on birth, put a crib together, decide which bottles to use, read a book on the first year of life, learn to breathe, learn to swaddle, figure out how to use the blasted car seat, and find some time to rest in the midst of it all. Luckily we had some people who helped.

I remember the day.

We went to Dr. McIntosh's office - she looked at Nicki and said, "We're having a baby today." It was beautiful to see a new life brought into the world. We were again surrounded by family and friends that day, all supporting us in this new season. For days people came and visited us at home. Some brought meals, others brought words of advice and encouragement. Nicki's mother stayed for a week after the birth, helping us with food, cleaning, experience with babies, and wisdom.

Then it happened - everyone left.

Nicki's mother had to return to her job. People did not stop in as frequently. Now we, who had never cared for a baby alone, had a child screaming in our house, pooping in our house, projectile vomiting in our house, waking up three times a night in our house. Even though we expected things to change, one does not realize how much change a new life will bring until that new life is in the house, living among you.

I remember that Nicki and I had a conversation that went something like this:

"Who thought this was a good idea? Leaving us alone with a baby?""I don't know?"

"How do you make it stop crying?"

"I don't know...what did the book say?"

"I can't remember...I guess we get to figure this out together."

That may not be the exact conversation, but it certainly conveys the feelings of those first few days of figuring out what to do with this new gift of life.

After all the fanfare of Jesus' birth passed - angel announcements, stars aligning, shepherds visiting, angels singing, and magi bringing gifts - did Mary and Joseph wonder as we did, "Who thought this was a good idea? Entrusting us with this new gift of life?"

We are not experts in this Christ-following journey. No one is. Not the magi. Not the ancient theologians. Not me. Not you. But we get the opportunity to figure this Christ-following thing out together. God has entrusted us with the gift of grace and redemption, love and hope, life and each other - all swaddled in the body of an innocent, helpless babe, trusting us to nurture and take care of this message.

-- Josh Brewer

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