If things go according to plan, Margaret and I will become grandparents for the first time on Boxing Day! So, a new perspective comes into our lives.
With my new identity I have noticed that there are no grandparents in the Christmas story. Now I am not arguing for 2 new fabled figures around the crib. But adjusting to becoming a grandparent has got me thinking and praying.
As I await a birth, I am so aware of the vulnerability of it all. I am sure I felt this on becoming a parent, but it has come back deeper. This coming birth brings such a mix of expectation, uncertainty, joy, anxiety. As I look on as a grandparent, I see this mix of emotions not so much in me but in the parents to be. This is a massive thing they are experiencing, they are feeling vulnerable as they prepare. The new child will be vulnerable too.
The other thing that strikes me is the number of adjustments to be made. The arrival of one new life is going to change the whole rhythm, balance and shape of family life for the parents. Nothing will ever be the same again. They can decorate room and get all the necessary equipment but there is so much more to adapt to.
In Advent we expect a birth and we prepare our nativity. There will be no grandparents in the scene. But there are major vulnerabilities in our Christian story, there are huge adjustments that the child will demand.
We know in the Christmas story the vulnerability and adjustments are not just for a family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus but in the life of God in human form and in the consequences, demands and transformation Jesus will bring among people and in the world.
Well, with just under 5 weeks to go, our apprehensive daughter and her partner get to the stage of saying “We wish the baby was born now” – bring it on. As grandparents we wonder: “Do they know what they wish for?”
I guess the same wishes and questions belong to advent and Christmas too!
Graham Brownlee, November 2018