I blame the Puritans. Early Christians like the Apostles were known for their joy. Think about it. Paul and Silas singing praise hymns in jail. Stephen serene in the face of death. If they were that joyous in bad experiences, I have to imagine they were bursting at the seams with joy under normal circumstances.
Then came the Puritans. Technically, it probably started earlier, but they made it famous. Laughing was not for Christians and forget about having fun and wearing bright colors. Having taken an early American literature course in college, I can tell you their sermons were not exactly joyous either.
If you are like me, the last few weeks have been a blur. Too much rich food, too many late nights, too much running around in circles. Throw in too little exercise, too few vegetables (the kind without cheese and fried onions on them!) and too little sleep and we are all ready for the re-set that New Years resolutions bring.
If you are like most Christians, your list probably includes eating more healthy, exercising more, reading your Bible every day and improving your prayer life. You may have even decided that this is the year you will really focus on being more like Hannah and really dedicate your children to God. You plan to have a family devotional every day, go to every worship service and make an intentional effort to teach your child about God.
My grandmother died yesterday. She would have been 91 years old in March. As I thought about our years together, I thought of all of the very many gifts she gave me. Not material gifts, for she and my grandpa never had very much money. The gifts she gave me were the very best kind. They are gifts I use regularly and treasure in my heart.
Granny gave me the gift of being raised in a family that loved the Lord. God bless the person who invited her into church one Sunday morning as she stopped to rest with her baby stroller in front of that building. Those people studied the Bible with her and she soon became a Christian. The church family that invited her in would become my church family once the baby in that stroller grew up, married and had me.
I really want to have a long talk with Mary and Joseph. I have to think God chose the best possible earthly parents to raise His son. Not perfect, because only Jesus was, but probably better than most. I think I may be right, as at least some of their sons (Joseph was their birth father and the adoptive father of Jesus) were leaders in the early church. (The book of James is thought to have been written by their son James.)
Unfortunately, my conversation probably won’t happen very soon (and if it does, I won’t be writing about it!). My clues to the parenting advice Mary and Joseph might give have to be gleaned from what the scriptures tell us about their actions. I went back and re-read everything I could find that mentioned either one of them. They really do have quite a few lessons to teach us about godly parenting.
This is the time of year for family gatherings. While you tell old stories, laugh at good times and re-fight old fights, think about your family legacy. Parenting has a ripple effect that continues for generations beyond the “original” set of parents.
When I hear horrific stories of child abuse, I shudder not only for the child but I also wonder about the abuser. Sadly, he (or she) probably had the same horrific things done to him as a child. The pattern often continues for generations unless someone is able to make a conscious effort to break the pattern.