Time flies so quickly! It is hard to believe our youngest daughter, Charis, is now a month old...it seems like yesterday she was born. It does seem a bit further back than yesterday for her big sister Ellei (who is 2yrs and 9mo today) - but not much further back.
Dates of birth usually receive a great deal of attention in our culture. Quite often they bring family and friends together for a celebration. Unfortunately it seems many parents go overboard, worry, stress, spend money they do not have, etc. - all for a party a child likely will not remember... What we are to make of that is not my focus here. Instead I will briefly focus on the other extreme - ignoring important "dates of birth".
How many Christians, especially those in the "Protestant" (what an ugly word) tradition, know today is John the Baptist's "birthday"? It is sad, but true, that when The Church ignores the "Christian calendar" a cultural calendar will dominate Sunday mornings (and therefore the minds of many Christians). Yet what does this mean exactly? One example is how many congregations will make much ado about the "4th of July" next weekend (i.e., on the 3rd) - but John's name will scarcely be mentioned in a few days. Another example is how many congregations likely touted "Mother's" and "Father's" Day recently - but Pentecost (perhaps) passed by with barely a whisper, let alone a sound like a mighty rushing wind.
Why do we do this? I certainly do not know all the reasons - but one has got to be that we do not have a Kingdom focus. Think about it, John was the herald of the coming King - Jesus. Therefore John knew what was important; he preached about the Kingdom of God (e.g., Matt3:2). Interestingly, Jesus preached the exact same message (e.g., Matt4:17). Yet not only did Jesus preach the same message as John, Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the same thing as well (e.g., Matt10:7). Hmmm, maybe The Church should focus a bit more on the Kingdom of God.
I have hopes and dreams of an "extended advent season" in the future where I serve - but that will take a lot of preparatory prayer and work. My hope is to ground it in God's Story...to show the needs for HisStory to impose itself on our cultural story (i.e., cultural norms). In other words, for His Kingdom to trump everything else (e.g., our desires). Unfortunately, it seems that is not a popular message. After all, John's message started with "Repent..." - which implies a radical change had to be made.
So "happy birthday" John. May we learn to live as citizens of the Kingdom our King established.