My two younger kids saw The Young Messiah today. They’re 8 and 10 and the film is rated PG-13. I worried they weren’t old enough to see it, but went with my gut and I’m so glad I did.
We saw the movie at the mall, so when it was over I popped into a store to buy my son his annual Easter suit. I’m going with gray this year. A nice complement to his little sister’s yellow dress. When I told him I’d get him a yellow carnation for his lapel so they’d be all matchy-matchy, he rolled his eyes and said, “There is now way I’m wearing that.”
The suit cost me $100 and I’ll be lucky if he wears it twice.
My life is full of these kind of obscenities.
So, with the young Messiah on my mind — Jesus bar-Joseph — we drifted out of the theater and up an escalator. We breezed passed a display of faceless mannequins wearing spring hats and floral dresses. And, all I could think of while searching for the high-reach garment hook (why do they hide it?) was the young Jesus bar-Joseph. How on earth did it all come down to this? How, in heaven’s name, did we get here? Eastern bonnets and colored eggs. White patent shoes and hollow chocolate bunnies. The obscenity of Peeps.
Life is very hard. Just look at what time does to your hair and skin. Makes us all wrinkled and gray. One day I looked up and I had the same, puffy dark circles under my eyes that father had. He was 37 when I was born and he had them my whole life. He died with those dark circles. They were the shadows of his regrets and disappointments. Sorrows from the people he lost and buried. Severe realities he couldn’t rub away.
Life, with all its obscenities, is very hard. Beautiful, but hard. I’m grateful to be here. I’m hanging on to all the joy I can and swallowing the pain of circumstance. I try to take negative thoughts captive. I try to do what Paul said to do in his letter to the Church at Philippi:
“Fix your thoughts on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
I don’t sleep much these days. I stare up at the ceiling at night and I wonder how much longer I have left to live. This is what people who are 48 with young kids do, by the way. They count how old they will be when their kids are their age and realize they’ll probably be dead. So, we pack a lot of stuff in. Lessons for our kids. Like how to use the broiler – in case I die tomorrow — or how to navigate the treacherous waters of life. When I was little, I used to sing that song, Put Your Hand In The Hand. So, corny, I know, but every day, I try to teach them to put their hand in the hand of the man from Galilee. He will be here for them when I am gone.
He is always here for us all.
He is here for me — Jesus bar-Joseph, the Messiah who stilled the waters, who calmed the sea. I wish I had known Him better when I was younger. I wish I had trusted Him more through the years. If I had, I would have taken fewer things into my own hands. I made the same mistake Sarah made with Hagar. Again and again and again and again. I looked at my impossible situations and said this is too big for God. I tried to fix so many things myself with my few, measly resources. And, nine times out of 10, I created a mess.
So, I took my kids to see The Young Messiah, a tradeoff as it were for the Easter bunny windsock and the jelly beans and chocolate eggs I’ll stuff into their Easter baskets. I’ll worry about the implied gore and speculative nature of the film later. For now, I’m grateful to expose my kids to a different look at the Messiah — one who is closer to their age. One who is seven, and who reminds them what it’s all about: Emmanuel. God With Us.