Friday, December 19, 2014

One Small Child

This sweet photo of my grandson, Chris, soon after birth , captures the essence of the vulnerability and helplessness of a newborn child. 

Hearing a newborn cry out for the very first time is emotional to the core.  Especially if, for a few heart-pounding moments,  that cry is delayed due to complications at birth.  This happened with one of our daughters who was not breathing immediately after delivery and had to be stirred to life. When she finally cried out, that soulful, unmistakable sound was music to our ears.  The cry of a tiny infant resembles no other.

When Jesus was born and took his first breath, I like to think his poignant, emotive newborn cry resounded throughout the vastness of the entire universe. Why?  Because suddenly heaven erupted into euphoric, jubilant rejoicing and praise. A tear in the fabric of the firmament revealed a glimpse of the celebration of a great company of herald angels who knew earth had finally received her king.

The birth of Jesus as a tiny, helpless and vulnerable baby is unlike any other event in human history. There is such richness to be gained by honoring and worshiping the babe in the manger.  Not the least of which is the recognition of the astonishing humility of the Creator of all that is.  He "made himself nothing" (Phil.2:7) and miraculously became a part of his own creation.  It is nigh unto impossible to find words to adequately convey exactly what that represented.  In her book Bright Evening Star, Madeleine L'Engle, using her poetic literary style, comes close.  She writes:

"Power. Greater power than we can imagine, abandoned, as the Word knew the powerlessness of the unborn child, still unformed, taking up almost no space in the great ocean of amniotic fluid, unseeing, unhearing, unknowing.  Slowly growing, as any human embryo grows, arms and legs and a head, eyes, mouth, nose, slowly swimming into life until the ocean in the womb is no longer large enough, and it is time for birth....  Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ, the Maker of the universe...willingly and lovingly leaving all that power and coming to this poor, sin-filled planet to live with us for a few years to show us what we out to be and could be...."

And so it was, the Holy One, out of the depths of eternity, broke into the limitations of time and space for you and for me.  Fully human and fully God, this was divine love incarnate in a baby.  A real baby with a little wrinkled brow, wispy, raven-colored hair and enormous questioning eyes that stared into the eyes of his young mother, Mary. She wrapped him snugly with swaddling clothes and held him tightly so he would feel secure. I'm sure her heart melted with each soft gurgle that came from his mouth.  And as she cuddled and nuzzled her beloved new son, did tears of joy trickle down her cheeks and fall tenderly onto his? That's easy to imagine.  When she kissed her little baby, as she surely must have, she kissed the face of God.

The incarnation, in it's entirety, from Jesus' conception and birth to his death and resurrection, was planned from the foundation of the world. The instant he was born, he was the Son of God, the Son of Man and the Savior of the world. It is significant that almost half of his 33 years on planet earth were spent either as an infant,or as a child or as an adolescent.  He didn't skip over those years, rushing to achieve manhood.  Every minute of his life carried profound meaning. The wonder of Jesus' nativity is more than worthy of thoughtful reflection, grateful worship and highest praise.

"One small Child in a land of a thousand
One small dream of a Savior tonight
One small hand reaching out to the starlight
One small Savior of life."*

*Words from song One Small Child by David Meece