by Lilly Lewin
In Churchland and in the lectionary, we grow Jesus up too quickly, and we demand action from him.
We race away from Baby Jesus as quickly as we pack up the decorations and take down the tree. In the reality of having babies, the “fun” of having a newborn is just beginning…it’s the hard work of learning to bathe, change, feed the infant, the reality of not getting any sleep, the new normal of having baby puke your clothes all the time. It’s living with the messiness of a newborn. The messiness of a savior.
Are you already at the temple? With Jesus choosing to be there, in his father’s house, rather than with his parents? Are you already planning for Lent and Easter -ready to kill off Jesus so we can get on to the resurrection?
But what about this baby?
My babies are in their 20s, but I have lots of friends who entered the joys of parenthood this past year, some for the first time, some for the third time, and some through adoption. All are learning & relearning the ropes of being a mom & dad responsible for this wee one in their midst. They are posting cute pictures and celebrating milestones of their child on social media. Being aware that each day is a gift and filled with wonder at this newly arrived person!
What about us? Can we push pause and remember that Jesus was a baby for more than a day? What would this mean for our relationship with him?
Let’s take time to picture this and sit with Mary and Joseph and their newborn.
What does it mean for me that Jesus can be held in Mary’s arms?
What does it mean that the God of the universe chose to be born here in our midst as a vulnerable child who needs his every need taken care of by his parents?
Can you and I choose to hold Baby Jesus today, wrapped in a blanket?
Can we watch him sleep?
And notice his hands and the cute perfection of his toes?
I think the image of God as a baby is hard for us to grasp.
But if we are willing to imagine,
To actually take the time to be still with the Baby Jesus, what can we learn?
What do we notice?
The first thing I notice is Love….
Love for this small human who breathes in our arms.
Love and thankfulness for the miracle that is life.
Love for the Creator who becomes one of his creations in all the beauty and ugliness of this world!
We can choose to wait for and watch for this baby’s first smiles and watch his eyes twinkling with recognition.
Today let’s sit with two week old Baby Jesus and ponder in our hearts as Mary did… the Wonder that is the Baby!
READ. Take some time to read the Christmas story in Luke 2 and consider what happens next for Baby Jesus. He is taken to the Temple and named and his parents receive a prophecy. What can we learn from Anna and Simeon? What new things do you notice as you focus on the Baby Jesus and his mom and dad?
Journal. It’s Epiphany this Sunday, January 6th. The day we celebrate the Magi visiting Jesus in Matthew 2. Jesus is no longer in the manger, but still a baby, under two. Imagine the surprise of Mary and Joseph when these important people show up with gifts! What gifts do you need to receive from Baby Jesus this season? What gifts do you want to give to the Baby? Take some time to journal about this.
Take time to grieve. There is loss in this story and loss in many of our lives. Maybe the thought of Baby Jesus brings sadness rather than joy to you due to loss or lack of children. Take time, talk to God about this! God holds your tears. Infants and toddlers are violently murdered in Bethlehem after Herod discovers that a rival king has been born. There are babies and children dying daily from hunger, war, poverty, etc around our globe. This is a horrific reality. Take time to mourn the loss. Take time to pour out your heart to Jesus about this. How can you help bring healing or light in an area of loss in your life or in our world?
Choose a symbol. Do you have a blanket or baby item that you can use in the coming days as a reminder of Jesus as a baby? Perhaps a baby bottle or a sippy cup or a toy. If you don’t have anything at home, you might pick up something at the dollar store or grocery to use a prayer tool in the coming days to help you focus on Jesus as a baby. You can also use this item remind you to pray for children at risk.
Pray with the art. Use the images in this post, or find one on line that speaks to you, and ask Jesus to show you more about himself and how he wants to hold you this season, just like Mary held him so many years ago.