Monday, November 02, 2009

Jesus and the Samaritan

One of the greatest joys of being a Dad is greeting Rachel when she first wakes up. Now I'll be the first to admit that when she wakes up in the morning, usually I am still asleep myself, or at best I'm only half awake, so there's not much joy in those moments. But when she wakes up from her afternoon nap, usually she is uncommonly still and gentle, in the mood to be held, and particularly affectionate. I cherish these moments.

Often as we're sitting together, I will ask Rachel, "How was your sleep?" and then "Did you have any dreams?"

The other day Sara and I were together with Rachel following her nap, and I asked about her dreams. She responded, "I dreamed about Jesus."

"Really?" I asked. "What was Jesus doing in your dream?"

"He was on the cross, when they hurt him," she said.

Now I'll say that this is not one of the Jesus stories we have spent a lot of time discussing... It's a little beyond a three-year-old's comprehension. Frankly, it's a little beyond this 39-year-old's comprehension. But it is a story Rachel has encountered in her children's Bible and in some of her Christian storybooks, and probably in snippets from being in worship.

"Was anyone with Jesus in your dream?" I asked.

"Yes, the Samaritan," she said.

"The Samaritan?" I asked.

"The Samaritan," she said. "He was there to help Jesus because his mother was at a meeting."

Clearly, Rachel is reading Scripture through the lens of her own experience -- and at such a young age... I'm not sure if this is good news.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Waiting... Anticipating... Praying...

Just so you know, we are in serious waiting mode here.

A baby is coming, and no one knows when.

Sara's due date was October 31st, Halloween (and what fun that would have been!), so we're just past that, but the thing is, we've been actively waiting -- on-the-edge-of-our-seats waiting -- for twelve days now, and frankly, that's getting a little old.

It was twelve days ago that Sara endured a long day of off-and-on contractions, and so when day turned to night and contractions were getting more and more intense, every 2-6 minutes (picture me with my stopwatch, timing, recording, gearing up for the big event), we kind of settled in for what we expected would be a long night that culminated with a new baby. Around 12:30 am, the contractions stopped quite suddenly, so we went to bed, hoping to catch a few hours of sleep but fully expecting the labor would continue. Wrong.

That was twelve days ago, and over these twelve days, there have been more periods of off-and-on contractions, more wake-ups in the middle of the night, more expectations... and we're still waiting...

I've been reflecting a lot over these twelve days: particularly about how few things there are in life that can't be scheduled. Seriously, very few things in life that can't be scheduled. Birth is one (save scheduled C-sections and labor inductions, of course). Death is another. I have shared the sacred journey with many families as they've cared for a spouse, parent, or sibling through the final days, and often there's a lot of waiting and preparation as God and nature take their course. Eventually there are labor pains (is it fair to call them that?), and life gives way to death and then to new life. And so it is as we anticipate this birth. We're at the starting line, waiting for the gun to fire... waiting... waiting... waiting.

Meanwhile, life continues. Waiting can't be our full-time job, and thankfully so. Our three-year-old Rachel needs the constant attention a three-year-old needs. Halloween has come and gone, complete with parties, costumes, trick-or-treating, and candy. Ministry continues (and yes, it was a bit odd participating in worship this morning with a substitute preacher, despite the fact that there's still no baby). Lots of people are praying for us, but since we've cried wolf several times over these past two weeks, the intensity of their waiting-with-us has subsided a bit. Now they just smile or laugh when a still-pregnant Sara enters the room.

And one of these days, with or without warning, the contractions are going to continue, labor will ensue, and yes, there will be a baby -- a living, breathing, demanding baby -- another human being who's going to live in this house.

Until then, I'm not missing the significance of this lesson in patience, trust, surrender to a power greater than self, and the sacredness of life.