Thursday, December 2
When God Is a Child
We say it often: God became a man in Jesus Christ. Scripture proclaims it: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Historic statements of the church affirm it: "Eternally begotten of the Father." Now, having been invited to prepare a devotional on the opening of Brian Wren's text "When God Is a Child," I have attempted to think about it in depth.
I said to James, "How can I fathom what it was like when God became a child? This is difficult." James replied, "That is what others are saying. Give it a try."
Some initial thoughts have been amusing. Did Jesus come to earth potty trained? Did Mary ever say, "Oh, Jesus, just eat your milk and honey," or, "You had better straighten up or you're really going to get it," or, "Just you wait until your Father comes home"? When Jesus stumped his toe, did he use layman's cuss words or did he just say "Verily, verily"?
I began to wonder: What perspective does a child have, or what attributes does a child possess?
1. A child has a different view. Being closer to the ground, they see things from a different angle. This also helps them to see some of creation that taller people miss, and children will often point out to us what they see. Their view is clearer, fresher, with more of a sense of wonder and adventure.
2. A child is the embodiment of the future, and gives us renewed hope for things to come in this world. There is a sense of new beginning, new energy, new strength, new resources, and new life.
3. A child is always attractive and winsome (and the younger the better). Notice that, in our recent Halloween costume contest, the young Jacqueline beat out all of the older, equally-as-well-attired, contestants. (Perhaps the image of the God child attracts some potential believers better than the Jesus who challenged and infuriated the religious leaders.)
I could go on and on, if time and my imagination would permit. Ultimately, I end up coming back to where this all begins.
When God is a child, God is with us. After all, this is what Emmanuel means. In addition, the idea that God would inhabit a human body and give himself for us all is awesome, amazing, encouraging, and a saving grace.
Recently I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours at Trinity Church in Boston. Phillips Brooks was a notable rector there in the 19th century. We know him best for his hymn, "O Little Town of Bethlehem." This text is one of my favorites, and I must close with its ending.
O holy Child of Bethlehem! Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today!
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel.
- Ray McClain
Lord, thank you for leading us, helping us through hard times, delivering us to the better times, and leading us on until the morning is bright. Amen.
- Andrew Durden