be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great
mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!”
Easter is the season of second birthdays. If Christmas is the
celebration of Jesus’ birth, one could say that Easter is the
celebration of his second birthday. This second birthday we share
with him. In the resurrection, our Heavenly Father has given us a
second birthday, a new lease on life, a living hope!
Celebrating “second birthdays” is growing in popularity in our
culture as well. Over the years, I’ve been honored to celebrate
second birthdays with people who mark a new birth in their life.
I’ve rejoiced with friends who have celebrated second birthdays of
their freedom from addiction, their rescue from the battlefield and
their recovery from a grave illness.
This past week, I was honored to be present for the second birth of
a young man named Chris. Though he will soon celebrate his 17th
birthday, Thursday was Day Zero for Chris. On that day he was given
a new life through the gift of a donor bone marrow transplant.
Through chemotherapy and radiation, the building blocks of his body
were destroyed and through the marvel of this transplant, he
received the DNA of another person.
poster outside his door read, “Happy Transplant Day.” Balloons
decorated his room. Despite the celebratory atmosphere, we all knew
how frightening the stakes are. Beginning at 12:07 p.m. Chris’ body
took on a new life. The transplant itself was quite unceremonial.
Four small bags of blood cells were fed through an IV drip. Now we
watch and pray for this new life to grow in him.
Chris’ story would be incomplete without the ultimate connection he
shares with us to Jesus’ second birthday. We’re confidently praying
for Chris’ body to receive complete healing. We’re looking forward
to celebrating many second birthdays with him. Yet even before this
miracle of medicine was offered to Chris, he had Jesus’ second
birthday to celebrate for eternity.
In baptism, each of us had our own Day Zero. Frankly it was an act
so simple and ordinary that the miracle taking place in us could
easily be overlooked. In baptism, the Bible tells us that the old
defective DNA within us was put to death and a new donor’s gift was
placed upon us. We were clothed with the healthy DNA of Jesus. In
Baptism, we took on his blood type, his immune system, his genes.
Chris’ transplant is like seeds planted in a garden. They must grow
in him for his body to live. We can’t make them grow; but we can be
the keepers of a healthy environment for them to grow. It’s a
serious and fearful matter for Chris’ parents. Their experience
isn’t far removed from what parents pledge when their children are
baptized with the DNA of Jesus. This is serious business; but do we
consider the care of the “baptismal kinder-garden” with the same
vigilance as a transplant patient?
what will become of us who are decades beyond the baptismal
transplant of Jesus upon us? Are we still taking care of the garden
and feeding it with that which allows for grace to prevail
unhindered in our lives? Has Jesus’ genetic make-up taken over our
character? Have we called upon his immune system to resist our
temptations? Are we donors of his blood type to those whose lives
are perishing, shattered and broken, without him?
My personal experiences and those shared with others all point to
the same truth: there are no second birthdays without struggle. It
is in our breaking moments that we meet Jesus raising us from the
grips of death. Speaking of our second birthday, St. Peter writes,
“in this you rejoice though now for a little while you may have had
to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your
faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though
refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise,
glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (vv. 6-7).
I’m in awe of how Chris’ faith has been refined and growing through
his trials these past 10 months. Jesus’ second birthday keeps
rubbing off on him in the struggle. Each of us carries a different
struggle, yet in the same way Jesus is writing our own second
birthday story through it. May our struggles refine our faith and
may we be to one another the supportive family that provides a safe
and healthy place for the DNA of Jesus to take over. He is our
transplanted and living hope “into an inheritance that can never
perish, spoil or fade.” Happy Birthday!
(c)2012 St. John's Lutheran Church and School |
505 S Park RD | La Grange IL 60525
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