Tuesday, 11 December 2012

December 11th - Jesse


1 Samuel 16:1-13

JesseJesse is almost a non-character. He is a shepherd and the father of eight sons; the father of the future king. But we know nothing else about him. He isn't powerful or famous. He doesn't perform any great feats. And yet he is chosen to father a king. And to be the root of the prophecy about the promised Messiah.

Parenthood can be a lonely road at times. We're on our own, even when well supported. Our decisions, our actions, will affect our children's futures. The responsibility is huge. There are daily screw ups. Constant feelings of guilt, worry, terror! If I do this, will she end up like that? Am I ruining her prospects? Should she be doing this, that or the other by now? I hope I will one day be rewarded by seeing that my parenting has paid off, that I have brought up a strong, generous, kind and clever woman of God. That she will be a credit to me.

While I was once the centre of my life, now my daughter takes that place. That was my choice. But sometimes I wonder if people want to see me, or whether they are just interested in B. Since having a child I've noticed that my Christmas presents have dwindled. People want to buy for children, not adults. B is still far more interested in wrapping paper and boxes, but I love a nice gift. I spend all my time looking after other people. I focus on giving my daughter good things. Don't I deserve to get something nice at Christmas? It's only once a year.

Jesse had eight sons. He brought them up well. He doesn't seem important, and yet, it was his parenting, his influence, that affected David. David was brought up to trust in God. He was strong and courageous and good (most of the time!) , and he was a credit to his father. Being a parent matters.

Jesse was of humble origins. He brought up his sons as shepherds, and yet one of them became the king of Israel. Didn't Jesse deserve a reward, rather than being eclipsed by his youngest child? Or should we see our children's achievements and rewards as another of our legacies, as another credit to the way we have brought them up?

Jesus was descended from Jesse. And He was given earthly parents to care for Him and bring Him up. What a credit to Mary and Joseph He was! Jesus had the potential to be as wicked as we are, otherwise there would have been no point in Satan tempting Him, or in Him dying in our place. But He was brought up to love God with all His heart and mind and soul and strength, and to love His neighbour as Himself. He was taught and loved and shown how to behave. Mary and Joseph mattered because they brought Jesus up.

We can be envious or we can be supportive. This Christmas I choose to be like Jesse, and like Mary and Joseph.

"May my daughter's achievements be greater than mine. May I be supportive. May I bring her up well. And may I not complain when she gets better presents than me!"

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