For Griffin Kozminski
This year is the first for me to be a parent during Advent and Christmas, and I have been enjoying the new perspectives it brings. I have heard many new fathers say that they found a new kind of love after the brith of their first child that they did not expect. While that is true, describing the experience of parenthood is not just a deeper sense of love, but a wider and expanded emotional palette. With the sense of joy and love for children also comes a more tangible desire for family and a heavier awareness of what could easily go wrong. Fear is often the dark side of love, and we want to hold on to whatever we can control.
It was in this context that I remembered the story of Mary and Joseph. Who knows what fears they had as they traveled during pregnancy without any promise of comfort and safety. While we do not know exactly what Mary did as a new mother, we can speculate that she and Joseph sang lullabies for their baby. What went through the imaginations of Mary while she sang Jesus to sleep? The instinct of a parent to shelter their child from harm might have often conflicted directly with what they anticipated Jesus must do for his people.
There is something magical that happens when a parent sings a baby to sleep. On the surface, it might seem like the parent is doing all of the comforting and the child is the needy one. But the parent is the one who worries. The parent is the one who stays up at night preparing for the next day, who is tired without opportunity to rest, who has unmet desires they keep secret, and who feels unable to combat all the dangers of life. The baby, weak and small, falls asleep at the sound of your voice and sleeps securely with a sense of trust. That picture of trust is like a song of its own to any parent, and I believe it is a gift from God to comfort us. It is a song without words or melody, but it sings loudly in the hearts of a mother and father. While Mary and Joseph knew they would not be able to keep Jesus from harm, I believe, even as a baby, he ministered to them through a picture of vulnerability and rest in God's sovereign plan.
This year’s song, Peace, written by Sherri Youngward, has been a long-time favorite song of my church, City Reformed. Two years ago, we lost a member of our congregation to SIDS, on Christmas Day. Griffin Kozminski was 8 months old. His parents had used this song to sing him to sleep throughout his life, and they decided to have it sung at his funeral too. As they grieved and our church grieved with them, the awareness that we do not control the welfare of our families was deeply rooted in many hearts. The song took on a new meaning and has since been a regular reminder to us of Griffin’s life and the often confusing providence of God. It is from that context that I think we all sing with Mary and Joseph. Christ began his life as a helpless baby with needs only his parents could provide for, but he was still the Son of God and was the manifestation of "peace on earth" to his parents. Likewise, we sing over our children and they in turn proclaim the providence of God back to us. We cannot protect our children from everything that might threaten their peace, but we need this infantile picture of trust in God regardless of the outcome. The witness of our children to us as parents might be wordless and without a melody, but their song highlights our need for the peace of Christ.
This song is dedicated to Griffin Kozminski and I hope it is an encouragement to all parents who mourn, worry, rejoice, and celebrate their children.
Songs & Themes