The Incarnation of a Herald

 

We were all once the new born baby. We were IT–the star of the show, like my grandson David was before his brother Benjamin came.

 

At fifteen months, David was still the only child. He knew that he was the star of the show, the director of the show and also the audience for his own little dramas. He had no doubts about it. He had a keen eye for dramatic situations. He would climb onto the foot high living room hearth. Immediately he had all around him an array of bit-players. All of us adults–Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, Great Grandpa and Great Grandma–were poised to catch him if he fell. So he’d prance and teeter on the hearth, with his hands together like a high diver and his eyes sparkling. He made sure he had everybody’s attention. Then he’d get set and jump off the hearth onto the rug. Sometimes he’d land on two feet, and everybody was relieved. Sometimes he’d land on all fours, and we’d all cringe. Sometimes he’d roll over. Whoops! At any rate, he had landed safely! Nothing to cry about. He’d get up and start clapping, saying, “Yeah!” We’d all clap with him and say, “Yeah!” And up onto the hearth he’d go again–and again–and again. He was the star, he was the director and he was the audience.

 

But then came the day David was two years old. He began to hear about a new brother or sister. My daughter Cari began to prepare David for when he would no longer be IT, the only star of the show.

 

It was in December that David’s brother Benjamin was born. We all expected that David would have a problem sharing my daughter Cari with the new baby. So from the outset Cari began preparing David for the new baby. She involved David in the planning. They set up the spare bedroom in the apartment with a crib, dresser, and toys. This was the baby’s room. They rearranged David’s room, with furniture and toy organizers. This was David’s room.

 

I flew into Chicago on the day after Christmas, to watch David while Cari and her husband Roger were at the hospital. Cari was scheduled for a Caesarian section the next day, on 27th. David began to exhibit the behavior of a herald. David the first born, who had been the only child for almost three years…King David…now, David the herald.

 

David wanted the door of the townhouse left open whenever his father left for the hospital. For David, the door had to be left open in anticipation of the big event. If he closed the door, Dad might not return. Mom might not return. The new baby might not come. So that’s how we waited for the new baby: with the door cracked open.

 

The baby was delivered. After a struggle Cari and Roger fixed on a name: Benjamin…his father’s favorite after Joseph of the many-colored cloak was sold into Egypt by his envious brothers. Then Cari had to spend several days in the hospital. The weather was cold in Chicago, dull and gray, and we were heating the outdoors. So I would distract David with a video–“The Rescuers” or “Jungle Book”–then sneak to the door and close it. Invariably, he would get up and, while still watching the video, open it.

 

What was so surprising was the day of the return. Dad went to pick Mom and Benjamin up from the hospital. Of course, the door stayed open. Then they arrived. David was all over the place directing traffic. He’d go up to the baby in the car seat on the couch and say, “Benjamin.” Then he would run upstairs to the bedroom he and Mom had prepared for his new brother–and rattling the crib, he’d say, “Bring Benjamin up here.” He was so excited.

 

Most remarkable of all, after everybody was settled in, David said, “Grandpa…Grandpa, you can close the door now!”  The little herald had proclaimed the arrival of the new baby. Everybody was present and accounted for. The baby, who would soon take up so much of Mom’s time, had arrived safely. The baby, who was so little, so vulnerable, and so cute, was now the center of attention. Would David be forgotten? Little David had welcomed and witnessed to the new. I stood up and closed the door.

 

It must be obvious. Heralds help us to see and hear clearly the thing being heralded. They help us to see God’s plan for us all. We are a heralding people. Like John the Baptist, we are all heralds.  That’s our job, to know clearly who we are in relation to Jesus Christ and to proclaim the good news as we experience it in our lives. Standing at the top of the stairs, little David said, “Bring him up here! Make straight the path of the Lord!”

 

Through us–through our individual testimonies–others will  believe. Through us–through our collective testimony–the kingdom of heaven will be made visible and real to all we meet. That is our wonderful and joyful job.

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