Archive for the 'baby' Category

“A baby…God’s opinion…”

“A baby,” wrote poet/philosopher Carl Sandburg,is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” But for the last 40+ years (since the birth of my first child), I’ve heard a constant, jarring countermelody:  “I’m so glad I don’t have to raise children today.” This sad song laments the revolutionary change that’s marked those four decades. The world has become in many respects a disturbing, dangerous place. Parents must exercise constant vigilance. Children aren’t automatically safe even in the places and with the people we once trusted implicitly. Substance abuse has become epidemic. The social, political, religious, and economic structures that held life together for so long are broken and/or irrelevant. None of the “old reliables” are reliable any more. The transforming changes that have shaped this strange new world are a mixed blessing. They open up both revolutionary possibilities and potentially catastrophic risks. Today’s parents face a world far more precarious and complex than the one into which they or their parents were born.

“I’m glad I don’t have to raise children today.”  The song sings concern, uncertainty, even bewilderment. Just below the surface we can hear nostalgia, fear, and despair.  O to return to that simpler, gentler time (which never was as good as we remember from this distance). But we know we can’t. We fear that we have lost something irreplaceably precious in this relentless change. We’ve been robbed of what was loved, familiar, and certain, and left with ideas and practices that are at best strange and unsettling, at worst disturbing and even dangerous. We feel powerless against these threats to our core values, our “way of life”. Worst of all, we don’t believe things will get better. “I’m glad I don’t have to raise children today.” It’s very hard, the results are very uncertain, our neighbors care very little, and the world is very rapidly going to hell in a basket.

Yet Carl Sandburg sings on: “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”  We worshiped on Mother’s Day with a church that sings Sandburg’s song from its heart. This faith community highly values children and their families throughout its life. These disciples don’t underestimate the challenge of raising today’s children. They do offer outstanding support and resources to families who choose to partner with them. They don’t uncritically embrace every new fad/trend, nor do they hyper-critically condemn all newness and change. They understand that God needs earlier generations–you and me–to help make God’s ongoing world a safer, healthier place for today’s “babies”–including our newest granddaughter who will be born soon after this post flies off into cyberspace! Then, in God’s time, she and her generation will take their turn partnering with God to help God continue building God’s world to serve God’s purposes.

You may have noticed that some Christians have a different take on this issue. Some believe God’s already stamped a “use-by”date on this world. It’s very close and not subject to change. So why bother trying to change what’s already a done deal? Just get yourself ready–really ready–and hang on tight. Some others believe the way forward is back–back to “pure”, “orthodox”, “uncorrupted”. So they huddle together with like-minded folks and leave the rest of us to our fates.

But those folks at Green Valley Church see things a bit differently. Yes, it’s a huge challenge raising children today–like it’s  been in every era. But these babies are God’s opinion that God’s world will go on. So let’s get busy together with God to make this world a place where babies, their families, and everyone can thrive as God intends. Sunday’s bulletin described their upcoming ACTS weekend (Assisting Community Through Service). They’ll clean up parks, paint and clean school rooms, collect food, help out in libraries and other community agencies. The bulletin also described the congregation’s planned  participation in an upcoming community forum. More than a thousand folks from faith communities all over the Las Vegas Valley will gather to seek ways to cooperate in addressing critical social and economic issues. They believe God’s opinion that the world should go on and become more the place God intends it to be. They intend to help it happen–together with all who join them in singing with Carl Sandburg: “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”

In case you missed it–We who follow Jesus believe that God came in the form of a human baby to announce that opinion. The $5 theological word for that is Incarnation. You may know it better as Christmas.