“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”—Luke 2:10
That original “Silent Night” celebrated in song was not easy to secure. The Holy Mother was a pregnant teen on the move. Mary and Joseph had to deal with an oppressive, occupying government.
Jesus was born into tumult. Raised as a refugee, his parents were well acquainted with displacement, pain, and trauma.They crossed canyons and fought through crowds burdened by unjust taxation before finding rest in a grotto reserved for animals.
While artisans have immortalized the scene in the stable with a golden glow, Mary and Joseph’s silent night didn’t last long. Pharaoh would soon slaughter children in an effort to hold onto his power. Jesus was born into tumult. Raised as a refugee, his parents were well acquainted with displacement, pain, and trauma. Threats to families, to children, to wellbeing were normal. Shelter and refuge were in short supply. Grief was the communal status quo.
What kind of traumas have you experienced this year? The daily headlines were so jarring from hurricanes and floods to fires. Secrets and lies surrounding sexual assault were revealed in corridors of power from Washington, DC to Hollywood. Mass murders ripped through seemingly safe spaces like concerts and churches. Our efforts to seek security could not prevent such tragedies.
Last summer, my father passed away at age 82. This fall, my oldest child went off to college at age 18. Change is a near constant. Upheaval is definitely guaranteed.
Perhaps that is why we relish this silent night. Artists, musicians, and poets have celebrated this divine moment of domestic bliss—the entry of a child into a world of strife. We anticipate the opportunity to gather around the Christmas tree. We are grateful for a sacred occasion to count our blessings and inaugurate another year in the church calendar. Hallelujah –the advent of our king is at hand.
The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology has been in a season of anticipation as Dr. Keith Anderson concluded up his remarkably steadfast leadership and the search for the next president commenced. Encouraging support for new programs launching in 2018 give our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends a sense that a time of expectant preparation is heading towards unparalleled fruition.
This week, my family of four will pack up our car and head north, up the Pacific Coast, from Los Angeles, the only home we’ve known in 27 years of marriage, to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
Why leave the safety and security of a tenured professorship to pursue a calling as the third president of The Seattle School? When I consider how much anxiety and insecurity bedevils us, I find myself searching for places of refuge. We turn to sanctuaries like The Seattle School that offer hope and healing. We need so many more leaders, equipped to counsel, to pastor, to create. I am truly energized by the mission communicated to me by the search committee and the Board of Trustees. The Seattle School has a beautiful story to share.
We take heart in the arrival of a baby, God in flesh, to interrupt cultural narratives of terror. The Strongest became weak to show us a way forward beyond dominance and fear.
At a time when many question the efficacy of counseling or the relevance of ministry, we look to our students and alumni to defy the odds, to communicate our enduring confidence in the baby, in the manger, the harbinger of peace. Thank you for your partnership in our miraculous endeavor, the birth of a graduate school, rooted in orthodox Christian faith, at a time when religious “nones” are rising.
We take heart in the arrival of a baby, God in flesh, to interrupt cultural narratives of terror. The Strongest became weak to show us a way forward beyond dominance and fear. Submission to the Father’s will became the most potent and enduring way to break cycles of abuse. This new narrative offered us all a fresh start found in confession of sin and renunciation of power plays. The gravity and grandeur of the beautiful in-breaking of a baby is ample reason to marvel, to celebrate, to gather together for a silent night, a holy night, focused upon love’s pure light. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”—Luke 2:11