I wrote an article for the current Issue of Vine News. Here's a sneak peak for you loyal RP readers:
There had to be that moment. There’s always that moment.
When my first son was born the moment happened about twelve hours later. My wife slept in the hospital bed and I held him. That was the moment.
When a child comes into your world – invades your world – the child brings chaos. There’s nothing overly sentimental about childbirth itself: the contractions, the race to the hospital, the paperwork, the screaming (from the paperwork), the nurses, the doctors, the needles, the screaming (of the mother), the pushing, the yelling and, finally, the screaming (of a baby).
Then comes the crying, the testing, the cleaning, the relatives! It’s not a quiet day. It’s a loud day. A painful day. A wonderfully, chaotic, my-life-is-never-going-to-be-the-same kind of day.
But there is always that moment. The moment when dad takes a survey of the room and concludes that the chaos is over. (Well, new dads believe it’s over. Us veterans have learned that the chaos is just taking a nap.) That first simple moment when mom and baby are both resting gives dad a window to attempt to embrace all that just happened. That moment when the relatives and friends have come and gone, leaving in their wake a sea of flowers and teddy bears and Baby’s R Us gift cards.
That simple, quiet moment. The moment you realize that this baby changes everything, and that everything deserves to be changed for the sake of this baby. Simple. Profound. Real.
My second son was born two days before the attacks of 9-11. I woke up that morning thinking about my new baby. I turned on the TV and everything changed again. That day was horrible for a nation. Horrible for all of us in some terribly communal way. My moment came that night. For a few seconds that evening I was blessed to forget about the death, the carnage, the violence. I held in my arms a two-day old fresh start. A clean slate. A cosmic do-over called a baby. On the most hopeless of nights for my homeland, I held hope in my arms and watched him sleep. On a day of death, I held the hope of life.
Sometimes hope is simple. We all want hope. An election year is emerging, which means that by this time next year we will have had more than our fill of the constant promises of professional hope peddlers. People, mostly good intentioned people, promising us that their ideas, their experiences, their leadership can give our nation a new birth into a living hope.
Then there’s the loud and constant professional hope peddlers who come around every four minutes vs. every four years. They live in your radio, your TV, and your computer. They litter the highway with billboards and plaster the Sunday newspaper. They are everywhere. Nothing says hope like a Big Mac, or a plasma TV, or a LEGO Adventure Set that can build a working, to scale, Space Shuttle. The peddlers want us to know that we can buy hope. They also want us to know that if we simply can’t afford hope this year, we can apply for the HopeCard Plus and pay off our hope with a 21% APR. We can purchase a new birth into a living hope…can’t we?
No. We can’t. That’s why there is education. So we can learn to be hopeful. Another class. Another book. Another degree. That ought to do it, right?
Strike three. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. The more you learn the more you see that nothing we know can give us new birth or living hope.
Alas, nothing we do can give us real hope.
That’s why we need a baby.
When terrorists ram into the foundations of our life, we need a baby.
When politicians can’t fix things, we need a baby.
When we have bought and mortgaged ourselves into hopelessness, we need a baby.
When we learn that there is no earthy hope, we need a baby.
Not just any baby. We need a heavenly baby. We need a baby from Heaven to save our earthly problems. We need Christmas. Not the “Christmas” that these hope peddlers push down our throats. That Christmas isn’t real. We need the Christmas that admits we are hopeless. The Christmas that admits we need a new birth because we’ve destroyed the lives that emerged from our first birth. We need a Christmas that gives us living hope. Living hope only comes from life – the life of a baby – a heavenly baby. The God Baby.
This year at The Vineyard we are determined to find that baby. We will be seeking him like ancient Magi. We will be running to him like stunned shepherds. But mostly, we will be admiring him. Treasuring him like his mother did. Holding him like Joseph did.
We will seek the baby until we find Him, or perhaps, we will seek Him until He finds us. When we find Him, we will not rest until we find that moment. That moment when the chaos dies and peace slips in the back door. That moment when the world falls asleep long enough to still our hearts. And as we reach for the baby, in that moment, we will see that it is not we who hold the baby, but the baby who holds us. It is not the baby who is weak. It is not the baby who needs. It’s me.
I am the one who needs to be born (again) – I need a new birth into a living hope.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope…” I Peter 1:3 (NIV)
This Christmas we will find a baby who gives birth to hope. Join us every weekend in December as we learn to worship this baby for saving our lives. Also, join us on the evenings of December 20, 21, 22 for the VCC original Christmas production, “A Cat Named Bruce” as we all journey from the chaos of Christmas to the simplicity of love’s advent.
This Christmas holds that moment. Don’t miss it.
My "babies" today (above).