During Advent we tend to reduce the incarnation to a cutesy, sentimental, fluffy, sweet little deal. We sing "Away in a Manger" about this baby, with the ridiculous line, "no crying he makes." Who in the world ever heard of a baby that didn't cry, anyway?
The truth is - I know and many of you know from firsthand experience - that, along with being an amazing and wonderful event, having a baby is a threatening experience. Along with all the sentimental, wonderful stuff, the birth of a baby turns our lives upside down. It forces us to rearrange our priorities.
Joseph and Mary certainly could tell us a thing or two about the disruptions caused by the birth of a baby, couldn't they?
Could it be that that's at least part of why God came as a baby?
Unto us a child is born. Unto us has come a God who enters into our experience as a baby - a small, fragile, vulnerable, disruptive, unexpected, threatening baby.
With the vulnerability of the baby comes his claim upon us. Because of her vulnerability, her dependence, her potential, a baby demands a commitment that is unknown in the majority of human encounters. It's a claim that exists not only because babies need us; that claim exists also because somewhere deep within ourselves, we know that we need babies.
Could it be that that's why God came as a baby?
There . . . in that baby . . . "the hopes and fears of all the years," as the song goes - the hopes and fears of all the years are met by a God who comes into our life experience and claims us at the very same point at which we all begin this journey that we call life - as a baby.
Jeanne and I have had two babies, and because of the presence of Kimberly and her older brother Robbie in our lives we have . . .
- laughed more heartily and cried with more anguish,
- been filled with more pride and wrestled with
- felt more self-confidence and assurance, more self-doubt and insecurity,
- gone to bed with more satisfaction and stayed up at night with more worry in our hearts,
- known joy at its highest peak and sadness in its lowest valley,
- had our priorities challenged and changed and challenged and changed more times than we can count,
- claimed more memories of the past and…