Babies are an incredible gift from God. Their smiles and interactions with us endear them to most people they encounter. They are also weak and in need of constant care and attention. Whatever you may know of them I can promise you this; babies are a lot of work.
You do not get a break from them. They do not all of a sudden become able to care for themselves, nor do they take regular scheduled breaks from their demands and needs of life. They constantly need to be fed, comforted, reassured, and of course; the diaper changing can seem never ending.
Jesus was this kind of baby. The kind of baby that cried when he was hungry. The kind of baby that needed reassurance and comfort. The kind of baby that wanted his mother sometimes and his father sometimes. The kind of baby that probably was reassured and comforted when he walked outside, but was fussy while sitting inside.
This is hard for us to comprehend and for that reason we generally avoid these types of discussions. However, when we think of the Expectation that the birth of Jesus brought there is much for us to learn when it comes to considering Jesus as a baby.
Did he touch something hot? Probably. Was this because he didn’t listen to his mother or is it a result of the inquisitive and learning nature that God has placed within us?
Did he fall from a tree: stub his toe and fall while running over uneven ground; drop something that was too heavy for him and break it? Probably. Probably. Probably. We know that these are possibilities because these are things that babies do. They do them because as they grow into the world they begin to examine the world and experience it for themselves.
As we begin to imagine Jesus examining the world from the perspective of a baby I want us to think of two things that will challenge us in our Expectation of Christmas.
I want us to think of the wonder that he felt the first time he grabbed a handful of dirt. Think of the delight in his eyes the first time he saw Joseph light a candle in a dark room. Imagine his laughter when his feet touched the water of the creek that he bathed in with his family. These things are not hard to do because we have all seen babies and small children experience these and many more magical moments. Wonder is at the core of all of them. Wonder at what they feel and experience, what they see and hear, and the magic that seems to circle around them. God has created us to experience this world with the same such wonder. It is why we are born to develop and not fully settled in our experiences and realities.
You are created for wonder. To embrace and enjoy what surrounds us. To marvel at others; their experiences and passions, and their abilities. To marvel at ourselves; our experiences, passions and abilities.
The second challenge is how we think and feel about time. I don’t know if there is a faster slow experience than watching a child grow up. As a parent of two adult children I can attest to how long it takes them to so quickly become adults. A phrase that I’ve read; the days are long and the years are fast, sums up well the reality of children.
The world demanded change. The world seems to seethe with the necessity of instancy, and yet God grew, as a child. The shepherds went and worshipped – and then went back to their flocks. The ladies and family who probably assisted Mary and Joseph on this night would have smiled and cooed over the precious baby – and then returned home to the pressing needs of their own family. Yet, God had appeared. The world is being made right. The Kingdom of God was present and coming.
Wherever you are and whatever your reality as you await this Christmas, be it with dread or with joy, these two realities can become yours. Allow yourself opportunities for wonder. Step outside if you are able, and watch the night sky. If you are not able, some of that same wonder can still be transmitted through electronic screens as you watch nature in the glory in which God created all things. Let go of some of your time. Don’t schedule yourself into oblivion. Stop demanding that the world come to fit at your table and fully embrace the moments and time that God has gifted us with in allowing us to live in this world he has created.
Christmas is coming.