Sunday, December 22, 2013

God the Child

“To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:11-12

“Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” – Elizabeth Stone

“And then something really beautiful happened, Daddy...” This morning my three year old decided he’d take a turn reading a story to me.  He pulled out a book about a rabbit we hadn’t read in a while, and he started.  This one had great pictures, and he has a wild imagination.  When he gets on a roll and gets excited, he gets hard to understand.  I was doing my best to follow along as the rabbit dodged one “spooky creature” after another, but his thought process and speech were about to lose me.  And then a deep breath, and clear as a bell: “And then something really beautiful happened, Daddy...”  Out of nowhere, he changed things for our rabbit, and out of nowhere the joy of being with this kid overwhelmed me. 

This time of year, we look at two stories in the bible – Matthew’s tale of great threat and peril, and Luke’s, of annunciation and joy.  Both stories setup the themes of who Jesus was and what his life was about.  And in Jesus we see a culmination of our revelations of God – from creator to deliverer, redeemer, and on to crucified and resurrected lord.    

But Christmas gives us a season to ponder God as something else too – a child. 

So here's an invitation to do just that – think about God as a child.  Think about God as your child.

We always call God “father” and ourselves “children,” and that is wonderful and deeply true in its way.  But take this Christmas invitation to turn things upside down for a minute. 

Think of the love you have as a parent for your child.  I am incapable of imagining greater love than that. What joy they bring us, what meaning and purpose.  What salvation.  Life is indeed never the same.  

And what utter amazement.  Every parent knows the tingling feeling of sitting in the dark, just watching your child sleep.  You know the joy of watching a kid open a present, ride a bike for the first time, and, well, you fill in the blank.

And what vulnerability.  The more you think about it, the more you see the genius of God in this parenting thing. Deep, true love, is born in vulnerability, and what is more vulnerable and loveable than a child? 

How immensely lovable our God is when we see this total vulnerability.  Stay with it – this is not the God of power and might; this is God the child, our child, completely powerless.  And yet we’d move heaven and earth out of love for our child.

This is our God, isn’t it?  The one that turns everything upside down.  The one who puts the last first, who turns the other cheek, who dies to give life.  And this is the God who comes to us as a child.  Our child. 

Christmas has many invitations; seeing God the child is mine to you.  Because this feeble soul, try as it might, can think of no love more powerful than love for a child.      

And then, maybe think out a little, a year, five, ten, twenty years from now.  Oh, the care we’ll take with this child.  And we’ll mess up loving him, but not too bad.  But we know this in our bones: we’ll try harder at this than at anything we’ll ever do because of this love, this animating love for this child.