My four year old’s blue eyes are wide as she looks off out the window, pondering.
Jesus was a real baby.
Even as an adult, I find myself forgetting that sometimes. Not in a theological or historical way. But in a physical, emotional way. It’s easy to pass by, even in our fairly ‘religious setting’. A home full of nativities, Advent calendars and Christmas story books piling up in every corner. Even our beautiful church has a large nativity set up at the entrance. Good sized, glossy ceramic animals sit on scattered hay, staring at an empty manger. Waiting for the glossy, over-sized ceramic baby to be placed there on Christmas Eve. Our priest laughs at how big our Baby Jesus is compared to everything else.
Still, it really is all so beautiful. What lovely images.
What an inspiring story. Ah… yes, let me remember.
Those reminders have a greater purpose. Not just to elicit a sweet ‘awww…’ from our lips, but to cause us to remember the reality of what we celebrate this Advent and Christmas season. It is REAL. Maybe I’m the only one (though I think I’m probably not), but when I take a few quiet minutes to really think on this, my brain starts to hurt. The incarnation is a mind-blowing concept. Do you know what I mean?
If we really are Christians, then we really believe. Not the kind of ‘belief’ that is scrawled in a pretty font across department store displays or talked about in the Santa movies our children watch. Not in ‘Christmas magic’ or in the ‘Spirit of the Season.’ We believe even more than a story book or a Christmas pageant where my daughter dresses up as a cute little sheep in the field. We aren’t asked to be merely sentimental, to celebrate a tradition, a story, a hopeful myth.
No, even more!
We believe in the historical, physical, flesh and blood reality of the birth of a small baby, who changed all of eternity.
I close my eyes, not to imagine, but to know.
It is a stunning thing to ponder. This beautiful, awesome event. Take some time today to do just that.
“He was a REAL baby!” Whose nostrils inhaled his first crisp breath, whose little chubby hands gripped at his mother’s hair, whose legs and arms were creased with baby softness. His little body took up space here in this atmosphere, just as mine does right now.
My friend Kristy shared the following passage at a Christmas gathering recently. It seemed to fit perfectly with this new meditation of mine.
The following is an excerpt from a play by Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Barjona, Jeu scénique en six tableaux’. Yes, Sartre, the French militant atheist philosopher. During WW II, he was imprisoned in a German prison camp. He befriended a Jesuit student, Paul Feller, who asked Sartre to write a Christmas play to cheer up his fellow French captives. Sartre complied. In this passage, Sartre writes of a blind man, describing how he would paint the Blessed Mother in the stable. Some believe that Sartre had an end-of-life conversion. After reading this, I find it very likely: