Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mary, Did You Know?

Greetings from Cape Town this blessed Christmas Eve!

"...and she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7)

As this new year has begun with the reflective season of Advent, we are called not to look back on those things we have struggled with or which have held us back in the year past, but to look forward to the many things our great God has in store for us in the days to come. We have spent these past 4 weeks preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ, our rock and our foundation who came to us in the miraculous, unexpected and incredibly vulnerable state of an infant. I can't help but to wonder what it must have been like that first Christmas as Mary gave birth to the Christ-child. I am reminded of the words to one of my favorite Christmas songs,

    Mary did you know that your baby boy
       would one day walk on water?
    Mary did you know that your baby boy
       would save our sons and daughters?
    Did you know that your baby boy
       has come to make you new?
         This child that you delivered,
            would soon deliver you?

These words remind me of the vulnerability of our God and of the vulnerability we are invited to have through relationship with this newborn baby, our Savior. Just as we wish to have a relationship with, to love on and care for little babies in our communities, I imagine we would also have wanted to care for the tiny baby Jesus. In that way, the birth of Christ as a baby starts to make sense for me in a way it never has before. It is an invitation into relationship with God in the least threatening way possible. God has presented God's self to us in a way that seems impossible and yet irresistible. Quite unlike meeting angels face to face, there is nothing threatening about this child that would cause one to greet Him for the first time with the words, "be not afraid." Instead, the first words spoken by outsiders are words of praise, as the shepherds "made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed" (Luke 2:17-18).

In reading the Gospel of Luke's account of the birth of Christ, I am drawn in by the power of these words, one line at a time. I accept the invitation to journey through that night with the one person closest to Jesus, wondering what this night must have been like for Mary. The words catch me every time... when the Shepherds spoke these amazing prophetic words about her newborn son, we are told she "treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). As she pondered in what I imagine to be joy and amazement, I wonder,

    Mary did you know that your baby boy
       would give sight to a blind man?
    Mary did you know that your baby boy
       would calm the storm with his hand?
    Did you know that your baby boy
       has walked where angels trot?
    When you kiss your baby,
       you kiss the face of God?

So much of why we celebrate the birth of the tiny baby Jesus is because we know these pieces of the story: Jesus grew up and invited us into a more full reality of who He was created to be. He has selflessly offered himself and returned infinitely more love than was poured over him as a child.

This annual night of remembering Christ as an infant is a reminder of the constant invitation for us to continue that relationship. Jesus maintained the purity and innocence of the child we picture on this night, and so in the same way as we fearlessly oddle over and seek relationship with the infant Immanuel, we are invited to enter into a relationship with the same Christ who invites the deaf to hear and the lame to leap.

It is true that for many, Christmas is about sharing gifts and spending time with family. I think we got this right: I believe God truly would want us to commemorate the birth of God's son by giving to and sharing with one another in love. Yet in sharing gifts we must remember that in the Christ child, we were given the greatest gift that could ever be given. We have been offered and invited to share in the gift of relationship and meaning in our lives. Through this relationship, we are loved and offered new life. New life that is remembered on this night, especially through the celebrated life of a new, unexpecting and holy child we long to love and care for, yet who loves and cares for us far more than we will ever know.

    Mary Did you know that your baby boy
       is Lord of all creation?
    Mary did you know that your baby boy
       will one day rule the nations?
    Did you know that your baby boy
       is heavens perfect lamb?
          and this little child you're holding is the great I AM?

May God be with you this Blessed Christmas Season

1 comment:

Seth said...

Very good and timely yet timeless reflections. The simplicity of Christ's birth is indeed non-threatening. I was blessed to read this.