21 December 2016

More Than a Cute, Squishy Baby

Sometimes you just read things that leave you stumped.

My friend Shannon recently wrote a really good blog post on Advent and what we're really waiting on. Stop now. Go read it.

Okay, good? Proceed onward.

What really hit me like a brick was when Shannon talked about how how easy it is to love Baby Jesus. It is ridiculously easy to love Baby Jesus. 

In her post, she quotes another great article by Fr. Richard Rohr. This guy is a spiritual genius and one of my favorite writers on life and Christian spirituality.

I was making a joke yesterday at church with a friend that sometimes I wish the six weeks of Lent could be swapped out for the four weeks of Advent. Why?
Well because I do the joy thing way better than fasting and repentance. Seriously it is easy to get excited about a baby who happens to be God then getting geeked up for no meat, fasting, and strengthening my will. 

Who gets excited about that?! #nothisgirl

Aside from the joking, I think deep down there is a lot there.

Why is it so easy to love the sweet, cuddly Baby Jesus?

Well like Shannon said because a sweet little baby doesn't threaten or challenge us. We look at love itself in the manger. We let Jesus love us and we simply love Him back. Yes that is a part of our story. Yes we need to do that.

But Jesus, the holy feast of Christmas is about more than a cute, squishy baby.

At Youth Group on Sunday we talked about the Incarnation (God becoming human like us in all things except sin). This truth is perhaps the most bold claim Christianity makes, no other world religion believes God became a human like us.

I told the teens that the message of Christmas is Jesus couldn't imagine a world or eternity without each of us. He became a human so that way He could show His love for us. He became human to unite himself to the human experience complete with all its joys, sorrows, hopes, and pain. 

And right now that is what I love most about Christmas. 

That my God knows me because he knew and lived the human experience. 

He wasn't far away in a palace like a warrior king the Jews had predicted the Messiah to be. Jesus knew rejection, sadness, anger, loneliness. He knew laughter, joy, confusion, and doubt. He had to learn how to properly use silverware or how to make friends. Maybe he had an awkward crush on a girl as a teenager. Maybe he was the fastest runner in races with schoolmates. 
He experienced everything, except sin.

And to a hurting, broken world this promise still makes all the difference.

The prophet Isaiah says his name shall be Emmanuel, which means "God with us."
This is Christmas.
God with us. 
Past, present, future, always.

On Christmas Eve I will go to midnight Mass with family. I will come home and put the newborn Prince of Peace on his bed of hay in my little creche. I will sing the carols and feel the warm fuzzies that always come with a sweet new-born baby.

But the promise of "God with us" outlasts the life of a Christmas tree or those warm fuzzies.

It is something we can hold onto and remember every other day of the year. 

And that is really, really good news.

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