It’s the end of the school term and I was able to get to one of the grade 6 concerts. It’s a very special feeling watching your 2 eldest grandchildren who are cousins performing on stage. Especially when you know they have been rehearsing at home for weeks, stressing out over complicated choreography, and driving their parents crazy with repetitious sound bites.
But all that slips away as the lights come on and opening lines are said without a stumble or hint of nervousness. At one point in the concert my granddaughter, who had a lead role dressed as a teddy bear, was responsible for delivering 3 minutes of unhurried passionate dialogue. 3 minutes is a long time on stage in front of a big audience. Tears flowed at that point. Love and pride overwhelmed me. The toddler with the quirky style was now on stage full of confidence and courage. Then my grandson bounced on to the stage and along with 5 other larrikins provided some raucous percussion to back some amusing dance moves. He was grinning from ear to ear and loving every minute of it. I remember holding him in my arms the morning he was born and here he was tall and gangly and oozing with what the French call joie de vivre – exultation of spirit.
The next morning, I found myself reading material for this coming Sunday. It was a very pertinent text.
During Advent, we are invited to remember the lives of another pair of cousins who lived in 1st C Galilee – John the Baptiser ( son of Elizabeth) and Jesus ( son of Mary). We don’t know very much about their early lives growing up together in occupied Judea, and when they do finally arrive on stage, something revolutionary begins to unfold. Clearly, they were close and understood what each other was on about. And, much has been written and preached about this story. But I often find myself thinking about their mothers ( we don’t get any sense that their fathers were still around; Zacharia was very old when John was born) and what they imagined their sons would become or what might become of them.
For me, Advent characterises both the joy and the pain of watching children grow up, move on and craft their own life journeys. Every parent, guardian and significant adult of a child can enter the poignancy of this Christmas experience, and the hope that every child will either be born into a better time or champion its arrival.
Let us pause for a moment this advent season and remember 2 mothers in particular. Two women who nurtured their children in such a way that they had the faith and courage to speak truth to power and risked paying the ultimate price. Which they did in the end.
Peace and goodwill.