The season of Advent always reminds me of my maternity years. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a quarter-time church job in Lawrence, as I was wrapping up my degree at KU. There were a number of expectant mothers in the congregation at the time, and I often heard tell of a quote from a late member – a former Lawrence banker who had helped the congregation plan for the future. Dwight liked to say, “What this church needs is a whole bunch of pregnant ladies!”

The senior pastor there was a very nice man, who couldn’t understand why I couldn’t tell him exactly when my baby was going to be born. I had lined up a dear friend to sub for me, and she agreed to play for four Sundays after the baby came. We were just going to let nature take its course, and I’d give her a call. “But when will you be gone?” he’d ask. Repeatedly, I said, “I’ll be gone for four weeks after the baby comes.”

“Starting when?”

“I don’t know.”

Similar interactions occurred on a regular basis and I worked hard to contain my impatience and respond politely, knowing that the church would be in very capable hands during my absence. Until one day, when it dawned on me — many years prior, that senior pastor and his wife had adopted their two children. His direct experience with the birth process was very different than mine.

I am grateful for that Advent lesson: patience, empathy, understanding, and an appreciation of the process, culminating in the birth of a child whose future bursts with promise.