Thursday, December 23, 2010
A Baby Changes Everything
While the entire Christian world turns its attention this week to a sweet and quiet baby glowing in the light of a star, surrounded by adoring parents and calm animals, I hear a voice in my head saying, "Who missed the part about this being a baby?"
The story seems to be retold year after year as a reminder to us that God was willing to be tender and vulnerable and well, so easy, arriving among us as the most innocent form of life. Just review the words to Away in a Manger for evidence that the baby we've uncovered in a livestock pen in Bethlehem all these years turns out to be something of a non-human phenom.
If this is a real baby...the kind of human who won't let you sit down to dinner until it is cold, keeps you up all night and day with needs you can't quite decipher, delights in one moment with a smile and terrifies in the next with a howl...then what's the deal with all the references to silent nights and no crying and let nothing you dismay?
Babies change everything. The way we sleep and eat and talk and dream. The way we view the world, our family, and even the electrical outlets we stopped thinking about the minute after we plugged in the TV. They are the ultimate show-stoppers, heart-stealers, and home wreckers. They turn our worlds upside down. Nothing is ever the same.
What parent doesn't know this?
I must confess, I have no time for the demands of a baby this week. I mean, it's Christmas the day after tomorrow. There is no room on the schedule for sickness or sadness or a broken heart or a wounded spirit. Please...no baby behavior. I have too much to do.
Unfortunately, this is not a Christmas condition of mine - it is the way of my days. Don't let me see that needy person on the corner or that hungry child on TV or the tears gathering in a friend's eyes. I don't want to hear how many people died in Afghanistan today or how difficult it is to find clean water in Sudan or that the soup kitchen 8 miles from my front door needs volunteers.
Please world...stop being a baby.
As I ponder my Christian tradition on this Christmas Eve Eve, I cannot get past the clear image of God as a crying, hungry, 100% needy baby. Oh my. And even when God was all grown up, the story tells us these words were spoken: When you do something for the least of these among you, you have done it for me.
In other words, it seems, pay attention to the baby.
Could it be that peace really was born on Christmas?
The baby is crying.
Why haven't we picked him up?
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