Just To Be With Us: A Mother’s Reflection on Christmas

As I’ve counted down the days to Christmas, I haven’t been able to shake this big question: Why in the world did God choose to come to us as he did, as a newborn babe lying in a manger?

Instead, what if God had come to us as a Herculean warrior?

With shining armor and flashing sword and arrows that never miss their mark? He could’ve waged war on evil and stamped out oppression and challenged anyone opposed to his way. Don’t you think this would have been a more forceful (ahem, effective) way to bring God’s Kingdom to earth?

Or what if God had come as a heavenly super-being, or a diplomatic politician, or the wealthiest or strongest man to ever walk the earth? Don’t you think this would have saved him a lot of trouble?

But that’s not what God did. God came as a baby. The definition of unarmed and non-threatening, gentle as can be. He came to us weak and helpless and snuggly and lovable.

This year I am shocked by the preposterous nature of the Christmas story.

God could have come to us as anything! But the God who created Life Itself, who knows the mysteries of the stars and planets and universe, came to us as a baby. And not a well-to-do baby born in a palace with all the world’s opportunities in his reach. No, he came to us as an illegitimate son of a poor carpenter with nowhere to lay his newborn head save some donkey’s feeding trough. Preposterous.

But maybe that’s the point. Maybe preposterous is exactly what God needed to get his message across.

Because he didn’t want to show off his might or power. He didn’t want to terrify or intimidate or force us into his ways. He didn’t want to remind us that he is the definition of mystery, beyond our understanding and impossible to fully grasp.

That’s not the message God had for the world. Instead, God wanted to tell the world something so magical, so wonderful, so merry: God became a tiny, helpless baby because he wanted to be near us in the least threatening and most accessible way. Near enough to whisper:I love you, and I want you to really, truly know me. So here I am, as one of you.”

This is the most vulnerable thing imaginable. GOD became HUMAN. Risking our rejection and cruelty and hard-heartedness and violence. Preposterous.

But that’s the point. That’s what Love does: it embraces vulnerability and limitation and risk, all for the longed-for-effect of being here. With us and for us. Love left behind the glories of heaven to walk the bumpy streets of earth.

I pondered this as I held my sick baby and rocked her to sleep.

This week she came down with a “birus”, as her big sister calls it, with a high fever that made her feel miserable. In the wee hours of the night she awoke with a heartbreaking cry. As soon as I heard her pitiful wail I jumped out of bed and threw on my robe. I rushed to her room with Tylenol and water, and I scooped her in my arms and rocked her for hours. Even though I couldn’t do anything to heal the virus, I couldn’t leave her there alone. I just had to be with her. Rocking her. Kissing her. Singing her quiet songs of comfort. It didn’t matter that I was losing hours of precious sleep. What mattered was being with her. That’s just the nature of a mother’s love.

Maybe that’s why God came to us as a baby…

Because we are his baby. And he couldn’t stand hearing our earthly cries from the far reaches of heaven. So he put on our human nature like a robe in the wee hours of the night, and came to be with us in our soul-sickness, and hold us close and sing quiet songs of comfort over us. God came to us as a baby with a love deeper than even a mother’s love. His love is vulnerable, and that is what makes it powerful. Though it’s mysterious and divine, it’s still within our reach.

This is the good news of great joy at Christmas: God came to us as a baby to show us LOVE. This was more important than showing his power and might and super-hero strength, because above all else, God is always and forever with us and for us.

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