Friday, December 17, 2010

LIFE BEGINS HERE II: At the Cradle

"Unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
The words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 18:3

Two years ago the Christmas story came to life for me like never before. In the fourth week of Advent, I witnessed the birth of my first grandson. Though I have been squeamish at the sight of blood my entire life, watching his gooey, bloody body emerge was beyond glorious! The artist in me (and mother and grandmother) must have taken over. It was a technicolor event. The umbilical cord was the whitest of whites, the veins surging through it were the bluest of blues, and the blood covering his helpless little body was as red as red could be! There was nothing gross about this scene! Nothing at all! It was beautiful: a child had been born!
As the nurses and daddy were tending to mommas needs, I was first to speak into this little one's ears and to witness his squinting eyes as they cautiously opened to a new world. My pinky was privileged to have his tiny little hand grasp it for support. I will never forget these precious initial moments of his life.

As we worshipped in church the next morning, my heart was so full. I could barely sing the Chrismas hymns I have known since childhood. "O Come Let us Adore Him!" Our eyes were drawn to his cherub face. "Joy to the World!" We wanted to shout it from the rooftops: he had finally arrived! I felt in a small sense the awe that Mary and Joseph, the angels and shepherds must have felt on that first Christmas night. As they peered into the face of this helpless infant, they were gazing upon the glorious face of the Son of God. What a night of "firsts"! It's difficult to even imagine!

Life began right there in the manger that cradled our Savior. On that glorious night of Christmas, the Son of God became the son of man. He reduced himself to the life and limitations of a human infant in order to expand our human life and limitations to that of the divine. It seems the only human response should be to crawl into the cradle with Him, to cry out for His mercy and grace. And that is exactly where our life begins.
This Christmas, may the child in you embrace the child of God.
"whoever takes the lowly position of a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:4
An Advent Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus,
I honor you this Christmas. I seek to understand and appreciate that you came as a mere infant. You experienced our very existence and limitations from conception through death. Lord God, help me to see you in this baby Jesus. In this glossed-over picture-perfect Christmas baby, help me to see my Savior. Lord, help me to remove the layers of shellac I've placed over this manger scene for the sake of celebrating my own indulgences.
It feels as though we have glorified your birth in an effort to justify our own carnal appetite for more "things". May I no longer hide behind Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, fancy dinners, gift giving and receiving. Instead may I stand before the manger with the realization that the child born in Bethlehem in a stable is the very one who holds the key to the kingdom of heaven.
Holy Child, this year I join the Magi by bringing you gifts, releasing my grip on the treasures of this world. I give you my gold, the seeking of fortune and fame, of vying for position and striving for personal wealth. I give you my frankincense: the many attempts to "smell good" by pleasing people instead of you, my falsity and pride. I bring my myrrh: the anointing and worship of human life above God; vain attempts to embalm my humanity, to preserve my youth, to feed an insatiable appetite for cosmetic perfection.
I surrender these treasures on earth and long for the treasures of your Holy Spirit. I freely give you all that I have and all that I am. I want you to be first in my life.
In Your name, Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen.

2 comments:

  1. Amazing! That thought of crawling in the cradle with Him is really incredible.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cindy, Thank you for your refreshing Christmas devotion!

    ReplyDelete

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