It is easy to romanticize the idea of childhood, unless you happen to have an infant or toddler living in your household. From infancy, a child’s entire universe is centered on itself, how it will get food, have its soiled diaper changed, find comfort in its distress. All the young child’s energy and interest is directed toward its own needs, and for those to be met, every baby is dependent upon the attention and care of others. The child is not aware of this situation at the time. An infant doesn’t seem to care how its needs are met or by whom as long as they are met….immediately! The child’s utter helplessness and dependence will not be recognized until later, and is something that even we adults don’t like to admit.
How are we as independent, self-sufficient individuals supposed to acknowledge our helplessness and weakness, our dependence on God and others? Is the price of admission to an accurate understanding of God that we acknowledge that we are not as in control of our world as we would like to pretend to be, that we may not have all the answers or any of the answers, that we are powerless over the forces both inside and outside us that shape our lives?
We are to come to Jesus as a child? Why? Perhaps, we come to Jesus as a child, because God came to us as a child in Jesus. Not just any child. Not the child of an emperor or the child of a scholar. Jesus was born to a transient family, in town only to have their names put on the list to pay taxes. He was born to “some old carpenter as poor as/dust and his child bride, two peasants/ on the run/ to pay their taxes late, with/ nowhere but a borrowed barn to have their son too soon for decency” as Dana Wildsmith puts it. Perhaps, by coming as a child we recognize this child in all God’s children, even in ourselves.
I am recommending as your Advent devotional reading this year Dana Wildsmith’s wonder-filled and insightful collection of poems Christmas in Bethlehem. It is what I will be reading every day of Advent. Won’t you join me?
Texts and Topics in Advent
November 30, 2014
First Sunday of Advent
Never Too Young
December 21, 2014
Fourth Sunday of Advent
One Simple Song
December 24, 2014
Mary Treasured All These Words
December 28, 2014
The First Sunday after Christmas
Let Your Servant Depart in Peace