My Son

My second son, Clark Christopher, was born yesterday. Read the letter telling the story of his name.

December 27, 2010

Your name is a story, and you will grow up in the telling of this story.  Over meals, in our going out and our coming in, even in your lying down, you will hear this story.  Your mother and I are eager to see your own story be told; each action and word and development; who you meet, how you respond, even what you will look like.  But I want you to understand even now, while you are in your mother’s womb, that the story of your name is part of a much larger story that you will be telling.

The prayers I wrote this September:

The legacy I want to leave this son is one of Your Kingdom, O Father.  I want him, each time he considers his name, to be reminded of You; to be reminded that he is, first and foremost, born into Your service; the son of Your maidservant.  Tell me the story of his name so that I can tell him; so he can grow up in the story.

Clark – Literally means (clerk, scholar, a scribe, a chronicler, an historian of record).  The men who wrote the Chronicles and the histories of the Kings were keeping the records of God’s works.  How He moved through men, on behalf of men, even as a man to deliver us all from evil is written down in acts of worship so that we may remember God’s kindness. 

The prophets each were taking down the Words of God in His courts (or caves, or visions, or exiled by foreign rivers).  All of the Words telling the story of Christ.

Christopher – He shall bear Christ with him in all of his work.  In all of your words, Clark, and in all of your actions, you will bear Christ; His story will be hoisted up on your shoulders.

Psalm 45 says it as clearly as it might be said, so let me say it covering you: I thank You, O Father, for answering me.  For telling the story of Clark’s name.  That he would come into this world knowing You; adoring You.  That his heart would be overflowing with a pleasing theme; he will address his verses to the King; his tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.  If I can, if it us under my authority, I sanctify his tongue – no man can control his tongue – but Father, I ask that You fill his heart – those four chambers that moved me when I saw them beating – fill them with a pleasing theme even now, so that when language does come, his tongue will be shaped and taught and trained by praises for You, our King.  Pour grace on his lips as grace is poured on Yours.  

May he forget his people and his father’s house; may he cause Your name to be remembered in all generations, so nations will praise You forever and ever.

Sincerely and with great love,

Seth and Katie Wieck

My Son

…the epistle endures. This should come as no surprise to Christians. While we are often described as a people of the book, an important chunk of that book is a collection of letters. Indeed, Christianity is unique in ascribing divine authority to human correspondence. While the form may vary, there is genius and power unique to the epistle. – James K.A. Smith.

James K.A. Smith. “Apprenticeship by Correspondence”. Comment. Spring 2011.

There is divine authority in the correspondence between the children of God. Little children, fathers, and young men, as John says, have the word of life in their midst when their words are written in love; when they keep His word, then the love of God is perfected in them. It is humbling to be in the midst of people who love their brothers and abide in the light.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete." 

(1 John 1:1-4 ESV)

Absalom & Oedipus: Redeeming Fathers & Sons

Follow the narrative: A young male pup named Hank is born, suckles his mother amongst the litter, grows and develops sexually, at which point he begins looking for a mate; however, Hank runs in a pack and each pack has an alpha male, which is probably the father to Hank’s litter, who dominates the other males and has his pick of the females.  The other males can either challenge the alpha (by injuring or killing him in a physical confrontation), or they can suffer unconsummated sexual desires, or they can bide their time until they can leave and find a new pack.  On a very basic level, this is true of humans, too;  just observe any co-ed set of high schoolers.

Sigmund Freud’s theory that all boys developing into men experience some degree of an Oedipal Complex is sufficiently ingrained in popular culture as being icky.  It probably could pass without being explained here, but in one summary sentence, the theory essentially states “all boys, as they enter manhood, desire to kill their fathers so they can sleep with their mothers.” 

Freud observed something in human interaction, then alluded to a literary inspiration wherein King Oedipus literally kills his father and sleeps with his mother (unwittingly).  He might have picked another name, however, that would have been as fitting, and that is Absalom, King David’s usurping son found in 2 Samuel.

Meet Absalom

Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your counsel. What shall we do?” Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s (David’s) concubines, whom he has left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.”

So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof. And Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. (2 Samuel 16:20-22 ESV)

            Absalom does have somewhat justifiable motivations because David had earlier turned a blind eye to the rape of Absalom’s sister, Tamar, by Absalom’s half-brother Amnon, but this is still one of the more horrifying stories in the Old Testament, and it doesn’t end well for Absalom, for David, or for the nation of Israel.  The question is then raised: It makes sense to include this story in the Bible if the Bible is meant to be an historical document.  But if the Bible is also supposed to provide some belief we should hold about God, then what kind of terrible truth is it?

        The Terrible Truth   

The terrible truth is as old as humanity.  Man is born a usurper of fathers.  Adam overthrew his Father in the garden by consummating an evil desire (You will surely be like Him, or You can be Him).  Interestingly, in the act of overthrowing the Father, man conspired with a woman, Eve, whose name literally means “the mother of all living.”  And each son born from the union of Adam and Eve also bears in his DNA the conspiracy to “kill” his father, and there will forever be a struggle between a father and his son; between one generation and its heirs.

            The pattern repeats itself from Adam, through Noah and Ham, through Isaac and Jacob, through Jesse and David, through David and Absalom, through the history of the Kings, on until finally God steps in and fathers a new Adam in Jesus. 

A New Model

Jesus, who was born of the flesh of a woman, but whose father was the Holy Spirit, did nothing unless He had seen His Father do it first; said nothing unless He had heard His Father say it first.  He did not strive to be King and overthrow His Father, like Absalom had done, even though equality with the King was something He could have grasped; rather, He humbly served and was obedient to His Father, even to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Jesus essentially overthrows the pattern set in place by His earthly father Adam, by serving His heavenly Father, and then is glorified and set on a throne at the right hand of His Father.  There is no death of the Father in this case; there is only a peaceful co-ruling, co-honoring love between a Father and a Son.

            Redemption

Fortunately, this sonship is offered to all of humanity through Christ’s obedient death on the cross.  Mankind is offered the chance to live in a redeemed relationship between a father and a son by being co-heirs with Christ; by having a Spirit that cries out “Abba, Father!” and having that cry consummated with the welcoming arms of a Father who will not be overthrown; who will not turn a blind eye to the injustice being done by our earthly (half-) brothers and sisters; and who will give us crowns in His kingdom.

Paul’s Exodus

I’ve read stories from the Old Testament as allegory to the narrative of Christ delivering the world from sin, but this is the first time I’ve seen stories from the New Testament read that way.

From Peter Leithart: When Paul’s nephew learns about the plot to kill Paul in Jerusalem, he goes to the chiliarch, who gathers 200 Roman soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen for a nighttime escape (Acts 23:12-23).

This is one of several exodus events in the life of Paul, and an especially intriguing one.  It’s a night deliverance, another Passover.  He’s escaping Jerusalem, the new Egypt.  Instead of fleeing the Gentile troops, he’s protected by them.  The Roman troops form a sort of glory cloud, a host, around the apostle, who rides in the center on a horse of his own (v. 24).

Paul’s Exodus