Of all of the 'offices' I hold there is no office more important than being a father to my two children, Courtney and Liam. Before I am a priest, before I am a scholar, before I am a servant to society I am a father.
I do not take this responsibility lightly. Professor John Volmink once commented in a talk that "Just about anybody can give birth to a child. Very few people have the courage to be a parent". I tend to agree with his sentiment. Having children and being a parent are very diffirent things!
Liam and Courtney are precious gifts from God. I give thanks for them today. Liam survived a very shaky start to life, having being born premature at 27 weeks. Courtney survived a brain tumor at 11 years of age. However, these are not the things that define these two precious people. They are unique, special, gifted, beautiful individuals - created uniquely in the image of God. Their lives lie before them, filled with endless possibilities and opportunities. Of course there will be challenges, dissapointments and dangers along the way.
My role is to love them. My greatest desire is to place within them a perspective of the world that says "The world is a good place. God has made it good. It is good to be alive. I live in love and joy. My life is full. In fact it is full enough to spend it on others".
I will not lie to you, it is frequently a great challenge to create this space, this 'shalom', this fullness of life (John 10.10). Sometimes I suffer under scarcity - I have a scarcity of financial resources, a scarcity of time, a scarcity of energy, a scarcity of love. At other times I suffer under reality - we live in a poor nation, we live among people who are not 'good', we live in a society that values things more than people.
But, the great hope is that we know a different way! That way is the way of a person, a person named Jesus Christ. He is the one who established a Kingdom that is more powerful than the economic, political and social systems of the world. His way is a way of grace, a way of acceptance, a way of inclusion, a way of transformation, a way of fullness, a way of abundant life. His way is a way of love.
And so, the following quote from Stanley Hauerwas challenges me to be a parent to my children. Pray for me. It takes couarage:
What must be said, and said clearly, is that the refusal to ask our children to believe as we believe, to live as we live, to act as we act is a betrayal that derives from moral cowardice. For to ask this of our children requires that we have the courage to ask ourselves to live truthfully.
- Stanley Hauerwas (via @invisibleforeigner's tumblr blog).
Today I celebrated with my friends Gary and Ilene whose daughter Madison was born - a healthy young princess! I also remember my friends Zdzislaw and Heilie whose son Christopher passed away 4 years ago.
It is an immeasurable privelage, and responsibility, to be a parent.