This year’s theme is “The Life….” Today we close out our year with a great post titled……
The Life of Jesus’ Grandad
Steve Cothran has served as a Minister to Youth and Families since 1990 at 3 churches. He served most recently at FBC Greensboro, NC for almost 17 years and resigned this past August with the sense that “it was time.” He and his wife Nancy have 3 adult children, one grandchild, and a crazy dog. They are patiently waiting to see where God might use them next—and will be happy to send you a resume!
“I’m pregnant” should be good news. But when you’re an unwed mother it can be scary. Scary that you don’t know how to explain your situation to your future husband, to your friends, or to your parents. Scary that you don’t know how you’ll take care of this baby, or if either one of you will survive this ordeal.
“I’m pregnant” should be good news. But when you’re the father of an unwed mother it can be scary. And when you’re a minister of a local congregation, it can be even more intimidating. This isn’t how this is supposed to happen. What will my church think? Will I lose credibility because my daughter is pregnant? How can parents trust me with their kids if I let this happen to my own?
We don’t know how the mother of Jesus broke the news to her parents, and we don’t know many details of their reaction, but we know one. The only reaction we know for sure that Mary’s parents displayed? Grace. They showed her grace. The letter of the law called for them to punish Mary—to stone her—for what any logical person would conclude was the act of adultery.
But as confused and shocked and disappointed as they must have been, that’s not what they did.
My oldest daughter’s announcement to us this past year gave me some insight into how Mary’s parents must have felt.
Shock must have been my initial reaction, but it was almost inextricably woven with disappointment and sadness. Sadness that she didn’t think marriage was an important precursor to having and raising a child. Disappointment that this unborn child might be facing an uphill climb. Sadness that I had failed as a parent. Disappointment that she might be judged…and disappointment that I might be judged. Sadness that I would let any of these emotions intrude on the attitude I would need to greet my grandson 9 months from now.
The truth is, we pretty easily gloss over any of those questions that might come up about the birth of Jesus or how his parents and family might have been affected. Sure, every year we introduce the story and we mention: “How scandalous it must’ve been!” But we pretty quickly move on because we know that the baby is really the most important part of the story.
Fortunately for us, we heard our daughter’s bombshell in the afterglow of last year’s Christmas, and so it was a little easier for us to put our own scandalous news into perspective. After all, this wasn’t about us or our daughter or anyone else. It was about the baby.
It was about a baby who didn’t ask for this either, but who will sure need lots of love and support if he is going to make it in life. It was about this unexpected surprise that would change all of our lives—whether we wanted him to or not! And the only thing we needed to do was to figure out how to welcome him into the world and how to help him grow and to realize that he is a beloved child of God.
“I’m pregnant” represents the miracle of life and love that God gives us and reminds us that God allows us to be co-creators along with God. And when it comes to procreation, God obviously has a preference about the order of events and our commitments. But apart from the gift of life itself, one of God’s greatest gifts is the offer of new life—again and again and again—after our mistakes.
May we never forget the truth that no matter what we do, God continues to surprise us with grace and with good news.