It is so good to be back at Redeemer – I missed you! Three months of maternity leave went very fast; in some ways it feels like I was barely gone. My office is the same, the buildings and ground are all still here, the circle of the church year and our lectionary cycle continue as we settle in to Matthew’s account of the life of Christ. But looking at the faces of the first and second graders during PDS religion class on Monday, or out at all the littles during chapel on Wednesday, it’s easy to see that a lot can change in three months. They have all grown so much: their faces are different, older; they are taller; some of them walk with more confidence. The passage of time is evident.

Of course, Elliott, our new baby, is an incredible measurement of change. Each week it seems like something is different – he is longer, heavier, more alert, smiling, giggling, focusing (a recent photo is attached!). The change is gradual, though, and I have to refer back to photos of him as a newborn to remember what those differences are. Because I am observing him so closely, noticing change is difficult until I step back, even though I know it’s happening all the time. Just as my time away made the differences of three months obvious in the PDS students, the constancy of my three months with Elliott makes it hard to catch his changes in the moment.

This micro- vs macro- observation phenomenon can be found around us, and in us, whether or not you spend time with children – we are all changing all the time. Sometimes those moments of change are easy to pinpoint: a birth, a death; a marriage or a divorce; a new job, a new school, a new home; a diagnosis or recovery. They have mass, their gravity organizing our experiences and serving as points of references. Even if we don’t feel that different before and after, the rest of the world attaches meaning to them. The baptism of Jesus seems to have been one of these for the gospel writers – it appears in all four of them. (I wonder, did it feel so momentous to Jesus?)

Other moments of change are harder to define. They’re not really moments at all: They are gradual, difficult to discern until we are past them, or at least have space from them. Have you ever reflected on a previous time in your life and thought about how much you have changed? No major shift in gravity needs to have occurred, no degree conferred or vows taken, but, suddenly, you realize you are not the same.

As fully human as he was divine, Jesus certainly underwent changes between his early adolescence and reemergence on the evangelist’s page as a grown man. They go unremarked in our canon, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. So, too, with you and me. The day school students grow no matter how often I see them – it is my perspective that changes.

What have you been watching closely? What have you stepped back to observe? What will your wondering discover?