BC and AC: A Shock to the System

December 31, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

After a two-month hiatus from blogging, I am ready for the daily discipline again. I stopped out for three main reasons: 

Firstly, a writing/editing project came along and its due date was December 21. Now that it is finished, my readers will be hearing about it in future posts, because it has everything to do with Bringing the Word to Life and the Presbyterian Church. But I’ll keep you in suspense two more days on its themes.

Secondly, I found myself speechless. I know this is hard to believe, but I felt “silenced,” not in a bad way but more along the lines of Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but the one who holds his tongue is wise.” There have been so many issues and events to comment upon, but sometimes things just need to sit without comment while time heals and gathers wisdom.

Thirdly, in a season of personal soul-searching and spiritual discernment, I did not feel it appropriate to share my thoughts-in-progress. Since this blog focuses on Bringing the Word to Life in the Presbyterian family, and what I was pondering was far removed from PC(USA) concerns, this was not the time or forum. I do have a life much larger than my involvement with the Presbyterian Church, and that wider zoe got my full attention.

What prompted me to write today, however, was a thought sparked by some of the fun Facebook posts I have enjoyed in the last month. Several babies (or grandbabies) have been born to friends, former students, and daughters’ BFFs. Pictures of Baby appear on the birth day (supplanting the printed and mailed birth announcement), and ecstatic parents, grandparents, and friends log in with their amazement and wonder. Best quote: “I can hardly believe what has happened. There didn’t used to be a person here in my arms.”

And then about a week later, one reads the posts born of fatigue mixed with gratitude: fatigue at the lack of sleep, and gratitude for the privilege of welcoming a little one into the world. A few days later, the parental mishaps, chronic tardiness, and other inconveniences introduced into their pre-baby orderly world are revealed.

These comments of course revive my own memories of birthing two daughters, two years and five months apart in the early 1980s. Our life story is forever divided into BC and AC, “before children” and “after children.” The first week of parenthood, while amazing and thrilling, was also one of complete exhaustion as we re-organized our entire lives to accommodate the needs and schedule of a newborn. This meant giving up sleep at all hours, sticking ourselves with diaper pins in a dimly lit nursery, adjusting diet to enhance nursing, and learning how to do everything else one-handed. I remember the day my greatest accomplishment was washing my hair, and I laughed at myself for all the multitasking I was not maintaining under these startlingly new conditions. It was indeed a shock to the system that had previously been somewhat under my control.

So here is where my thoughts took me:  at this time of year (Christmastide), while the world has dropped the subject of Christmas altogether, we Christians are pondering the impact of the Bethlehem Arrival announced on December 25. On the day of God’s Incarnation in Jesus, the lives of Mary and Joseph were disrupted. They were already away from home on an administrative errand when Mary’s time came to deliver her child. There was no room in the inn, as Bethlehem was disrupted by the influx of visitors. Shepherds tending their flocks nearby were disrupted by the appearance of angels announcing the Savior’s birth. Herod most emphatically was disturbed by news reports of a rival king. In addition to all this commotion, I am sure Mary got little sleep while her infant experimented with the day-is-night and night-is-day turnaround that confounds parents everywhere. Nevertheless, she embraced the parental role: to do what is most important for the safe nurture of this new human being. Emotionally healthy parents will do anything to secure their child’s future. For Mary and Joseph, that included a sojourn to Egypt to escape Herod’s jealous rage.

Jesus’ Incarnation causes the Church no less of a disruption and no fewer inconveniences than a newborn’s entry into a family. God expects us to rearrange our corporate life around the reality that the Savior dwells in our midst and must be the center of our attention. Our life together finds order only as every activity and every thought, every strategy and every plan, revolves around knowing Christ and making him know to everyone everywhere. A church in my neighborhood underwent a major re-building a while back, and its architectural design illustrates this reality beautifully. The worship sanctuary is imbedded in the middle of the main church building, surrounded by both classrooms and offices, reminding me of the exodus arrangement of tribal encampments around the Tent of Meeting.

And so, in 2013, I hope the PC(USA) can give attention to how we organize ourselves to give witness to the presence and power of God and to remain alert to his claim upon us. It is this impact for which we must make room in our hearts and in our organization.




3 Responses to “BC and AC: A Shock to the System”

  1. And a blessed, fruitful, and (sometimes) joyous new year to you, too, friend. Glad you’ll be part of my wilderness trek.

  2. Viola Larson Says:

    I am so glad to see you back or should I say read you again. Sometimes Christ is the only order in my day and the only center that has any meaning.
    A very merry and joy filled New Year to you and Andy: )

  3. emd5542 Says:

    I’ve been wondering the whereabouts of Rev Mary. So full of joy you’re back and ready to call us to attention. Anticipating your 2013 messages. Eleanor Duffield

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