Yesterday as my, almost, six-month old grandchild vomited on my jumper (yet again), I found myself reflecting that a baby brings an awful lot of disruption with it. Your world is never the same.
Things that you used to take for granted are no longer the same. When you used to just jump in the car and go, now the simplest trip to the supermarket, resembles a full scale military exercise. Sleep becomes a luxury.
Your conversation changes. Things you would never have dreamt about discussing, naturally appear in your conversation; “how does so much poo come out of such a little thing?”
You become proud and congratulate your child on breaking, what the adult world, would considers good manners; “oh what a clever boy you are, what a big burp!”
Your taste in art work certainly changes as you display the latest daub of green paint on paper in pride of place. Your taste in theatre changes as you sit through endless school productions to cheer on your little one performing the part of a tree; “they were the best tree in the whole history of forests”
But equally, your values change too. The world that used to revolve around you, now has a different vision. That little bundle of life becomes the centre of your world. You protect them. Worry about them. Hope for them. When they hurt, you hurt. When they are sad, it breaks your heart. When they score the slightest gain, you are triumphant and proud of them.
Nothing quite prepares you for the disruption a child brings into the world.
Maybe that is why God took so long in preparing for the first Christmas. He knew the Christ child would bring a tremendous amount of disruption with Him. The world would never, could never, be the same. The entire world would be changed by the arrival of Jesus. Isaiah says;
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
(Isaiah 9 vs. 6 – 7)
As I read these words, I wondered how their original hearers heard them. Did they see them as words of hope or of threat? I see them as almost a warning. These words spell the end of the established order and structure. A God driven change heralded by the disruption of the birth of a baby.
As I continued to reflect, I found myself thinking about the joys of parenthood and grandparenthood (not sure if that is a real word but, I claim it anyway) because, the joys are real. I love being a grandad and I enjoy being silly, playing games, even being jumped on (some of the time). The chaos that has come with children has been the sort of chaos that has been good for me.
I think the same is also true of the disruption that the Christ child has brought into my life too. The old order of my world has been overturned and replaced by hope, joy and peace. Perhaps most significantly, my values changed and continue to change as I allow that bit of Christ like disruption to work within me.
One of my friends is a lovely chap called Alec Depledge. I received his blog the other day (https://stryka66.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/the-long-and-the-short). In it was a prayer from Celtic Daily Prayer – Book II- “Farther Up and Farther In” which really spoke to me about some of the disruption we all need;
A Midwinter Prayer
From the rising of the midwinter sun to its setting,
Scatter the darkness with the light of your love, O Shining One.
Make me short on mean thoughts, long on offering words of comfort.
Make me short on being driven, long on paying attention.
Make me short on focusing only on my own, long on looking beyond.
Make me short on obsessive lists, long on spontaneous acts of kindness,
Make me short on mindless activity, long on time to reflect.
Make me short on tradition as habit, long on re-discovery and re-owning.
Make me short on rushing and tiring, long on walking and wondering.
Make me short on false festive jollity, long on stilling and rooted joy.
Make me short on guilt, long on being merciful to myself.
Make me short on being overwhelmed, long on peaceableness as I set forth this day.