I remember when Tracie gave birth to our first child back in 1987. Our daughter arrived; (after 36 hours of labor) mom and dad were elated....and exhausted. We left the hospital full of anticipation. We would do everything by the book, we would wash everything 3 times before using. We would lock all cabinet doors, cover all electrical outlets, and there would be no pets in the house. We would guard our baby from doting strangers and over-coddling relatives. We lived on the edge of paranoia and Rambo-like resolve. Then....
Child number two arrived in 1988; child number three arrived in 1994; child number four arrived in 2001. Over those 13 years, our Rambo-like resolve for our offspring diminished to almost zero. We still love our children but we lost the fervor for making sure safety and oversight were our main priority. Perhaps, as parents, we just became tired or more comfortable with lowered standards. What started out in 1987 as a 'standard operational procedure' became more lax and gained wider latitude as to what we would do and allow.
Memories of our first child rearing experience make Tracie and I both laugh.
Yesterday, I received a flame of the "Peace Light" that has traveled from Bethlehem to the USA. The flame has been shared with other parts of the world for upwards of 20 years. In short, a local Boy Scout troop (Juniata Valley Council BSA) received the flame and has passed it on. We are sharing this 'Peace Light' among many churches in the area so that our Christmas Eve services will carry a new image of "those walking in the darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2a)
(For further information, go to peacelight.org)
Well, after receiving the light yesterday, I felt like a new parent all over again. I wanted to protect the flame. I wanted to be sure the lamp didn't fall over and break. I drove slower than I normally do. I kept looking over at the box to be sure all was well. I was a brand new dad all over again (a bit of a emotional wreck). I was handling something so valuable, so holy, and so important , and I didn't want to fail. Upon arriving home, my first task was to light several other candles and lamps for back-up. Can never be too careful! In the past 24 hours, I have monitored and checked those light sources just a bit north of a dozen times (Okay, maybe like 20 times).
All last evening I wondered about our relationship with Jesus Christ (Your relationship and my relationship). When we were new believers and lovers of Jesus we were so excited, so careful to treat the new relationship with energy and resolve, we defended our new found faith with Rambo-like tenacity. Over a period of time, other events occurred in our life, new people and careers took center stage, and our relationship with Jesus became less important. A relaxed relationship is often in danger of becoming something we point toward but aren't engaged into. We say things like, "Jesus and I have an understanding." or "Jesus loves me just the way I am." or "The new job's a hassle and the kids are in school."
Today, Let's renew our love for Jesus Christ and attend the church of our choice. Engage the message of peace and joy that comes to us in the baby Jesus. Allow the Gospel of Christ Jesus to transform our deadness into life. Carry the "Peace Light" of Christ in our heart throughout 2016 and beyond. Shine the light of God's love and grace into a dark and complex world. Get excited again for the hope we have in the power of the cross of Christ. Handle our faith as we would a newborn baby or a 20 pound gold bar. Our Lord Jesus will soon return to gather His church. Let Him find us gladly offering our best worship to Him, our widest love to our neighbors, and the deepest gratitude to God for His grace in doing both. Shine Jesus Shine!!