I like the idea of baby Jesus, and certainly the nativity makes a lovely picture. If you have ever held a newborn baby, it’s inconceivable that God would trust humanity with such fragility. When I think of the incarnate Christ, the Word made flesh, I don’t picture the nativity; I picture Jesus as an adult. It is this Jesus that I came to know as Lord and Savior – and this Jesus that made a way for me to truly love and cherish the infant in the manger.
Is it Jesus’ nativity or ours?
Certainly the nativity belongs to Jesus: Jesus, Lord at thy birth. But our first encounter with the incarnate Christ is our nativity as well. By incarnate Christ, I don’t mean the historical Jesus. I mean the moment or realization that Christ becomes real to us.
People were bringing babies to Jesus so that he would bless them. When the disciples saw this, they scolded them. Then Jesus called them to him and said, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.” – Luke 18: 15-17 (CEB)
Jesus said that the kingdom of God belonged to those with the faith of a child. And this is why it may be our nativity at Christmas as much as it’s Jesus’. In the same way God entrusted humanity with Immanuel, I need to trust God with myself.
With the faith and humility of a child, I realize and accept that I can’t save myself. The protections I set up to control my world and make it safe are actually just child’s play. I may think that I live on the food I buy with the money I made – but the truth is that this is an illusion. Like the woman at the well, my tendency is to keep trudging to the same old well for water that can never satisfy my thirst. Of course, it wasn’t until my encounter with the Living Christ that I truly drank the living water and ate the bread of life.
When I started writing about my exiled wise men, I thought I would convince others to do the same. Instead, I’ve been convinced that they need to come out of exile. And not just the wise men – I’m going to let Santa and his reindeer, the Matryoshka, Obi Wan Kenobi and the Storm Troopers, and Japanese children join the nativity as well.
“I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” – Luke 2:10 (NRSV)