“Both/And” – Lenten Reflection for March 2 by John Edgerton
“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my parents conceived me. Yet You desired faithfulness even in the womb; You taught me wisdom in that secret place.” Psalm 51
So my wife and I are having a baby.
Sometime between now and Easter—likely—our first child will be born. There is something deeply appropriate about the forty days of Lent concluding the forty weeks of waiting that is this great journey through the wilderness of welcoming new life.
Every doctor’s appointment and milestone and test bring a complex mixture of joy and fear. Joy that at the end of the wilderness there may be waiting for us a child we will meet and be forever changed. Fear that at the end of the wilderness there may be waiting for us a child we will meet and be forever changed.
It is not simple, it is both/and. Both joy and fear. Gain and loss. Prayer and silence. New life and the approach of death. It is already both/and.
So thank God for the Psalms. They are too honest to depict children as if they were angels, heavenly visitors who are different and better than we who have been tainted by living too long in God’s creation.
I believe it’s true, what the Psalm has to say of this child I’ve never met. I believe it’s true that the child is already sinful. Sinfulness, which is to be tied up with and implicated in the heartbreaks of the world. But if the Psalm is true, it’s also true that God has already implanted wisdom in this child. Wisdom, which is the capacity to reorder both self and world to more closely resemble God’s hope.
Both/and. Life is already both/and. I believe it always will be.
Beating heart yet lacking breath. Helpless yet powerful. Mortal yet clothed in immortality. Sinful as any, wise as any, good as any, flawed as any. This is the person I long to welcome to the waters of baptism.
O God, bless the living, and those yet to be alive.
United Church of Christ Stillspeaking Devotional Published by Pilgrim Press. Shared with permission of the publisher.