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pray for elias[/caption] You might think because it is Christmastime that this post is about the birth of Jesus and in some ways it is. But it is not so much our remembering of the Christmas story that has consumed my attention as of late. This Christmas I am deeply considering how our story- and more specifically the story of my newborn son- is intertwined with GOD’s story- the GOD who was incarnated in the frail frame of a baby- much like my son. And how this baby became a child and then The Man- The Man who rebuked his followers for stopping the children from flocking to Him- The Man who healed multitudes and who Himself¬† has overcome the power of death- He is Messiah, Creator, Healer. We have only just begun to understand what it means that His kingdom has no end and that one day He will establish a new order in which all things are reconciled to Him. In the tension between the self-limiting weakness of GOD in the incarnation and the powerful unveiling of His full sovereignty over His Creation in the Age to Come- we find ourselves in need of Him. And so our story unfolds… It was early in the morning several weeks back that my son Elias came into the world. It was the most grace-filled labor my wife has had yet. Her courage, endurance and dependence on the LORD amaze me. In the low light of our bedroom, with our midwife, birth assistant, and a few friends and family attending- he came- our sixth and final child. I’m sure that GOD’s holy angels always attend human births- partially out of duty but mostly out of curiosity and I have heard that babies come forth speaking GOD’s name- though it always sounds like crying to me. Weeks later I found myself sitting in the local hospital waiting in the lab department staring at a small nativity scene on a table. I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt when Jesus was born? I’m sure they wondered if he would be normal- but in a much different way. We suspected that Elias had Down Syndrome. We came back the next day. My wife stayed in the waiting room with our other kids. I took Elias in for them to draw blood. They had to stick both arms. He cried of course. I tried to explain to him what was going on. A week or so of waiting passed. We rode our emotions like a roller coaster. One evening I walked in the door when my wife was on the phone with the pediatrician. My wife hung up the phone and was crying. An initial test had come back- it was positive. “He has Down Syndrome”. The next week we went to the cardiologist. We had read that 40% of babies with Down Syndrome can have a heart defect but so far none of the doctors had heard anything abnormal with Elias’ heart. We didn’t expect that the echocardiogram would find anything worth noting. We were wrong. The cardiologist sat us down and explained that Elias has ‘atrioventricular septal defect’. Holes in the heart. Symptoms would start showing up around six weeks. He would have to have open heart surgery by six months of age. We were shocked. “Do you have any religious objections to Medicaid?” he asked us. He knew we didn’t have health insurance and the surgery would cost $100,000 and upwards. He explained that either you are a part of a Christian community like the Mennonites who pool their resources and negotiate payment with the hospitals or you get Medicaid. We tried to hold it together. It was like being hit by a truck. That night we were invited by my sister-in-law to a class on healing prayer at a local catholic church. There was Christians there from around 25 different churches in the area. They gathered around us before the class and as we held Elias they prayed and anointed him with oil. It was powerful and touched us deeply. Once the class started we went into the foyer and at one point a woman came up to us and asked us if her son could pray for our baby. “He’s very close to the Holy Spirit,” she said. He quietly placed his hands on Elias and prayed for a few minutes in silence. Another man spoke to me about how his son has Down Syndrome. He counseled me and offered advice and words of peace. He called me just the other day to follow up. Our families will get together after the new year. Slowly word has gotten out. We have begun telling friends and extended family and now everyone who is connected to us online- including you who are reading this. To all of you we offer our struggle, our journey, our weakness and dependence and questions. Like many parents and friends in the Gospels who brought their children and loved ones to Jesus, we too offer Elias to Jesus for healing. Will you pray with us? (For future reference: We will be giving regular updates on Elias here)]]>