Sometimes Christmas, with all the baby Jesus talk, feels like we are in the Talladega Nights movie scene with Ricky Bobby offering a prayer to tiny infant Jesus in a golden fleece diaper, asking him to help him win his car race. This year though, it feels like we need to celebrate and adore baby Jesus. We could use a baby after the year we have had.
We could use a baby whose presence reminds us that love comes down and dwells with us. We could use a baby whose breath calls the world to hope in new life. We could use a baby, whose poverty and vulnerability strengthen us enough to lay down any power or prestige we pretend to possess in our ignorance and vanity and kneel in humility.
This Christmas we can celebrate through a baby the truth that the deepest peace lives beyond our understanding. This Christmas we are acutely aware because of the gravity pandemics teach, that even pure love incarnate is helpless without the care of brothers and sisters who give drink to the thirsty and clothe the naked.
This Christmas as carols and merrymaking are whispers, we feel our grateful and grieving hearts make space for the miracle of wondering. We can wonder like babies and almost fathom why shepherds in a field behold angels, or wise people follow stars and take a knee by the manger.
Some tragedies this year were shared by all and built up slowly, and some were painfully unexpected and deeply personal. As my sister grieved the sudden death of her amazing husband in November, my family gathered to mourn the loss of a man we all deeply loved. Everyone was weeping except Ruth, her 1 year old granddaughter, who simply wanted to walk back and forth between the dining room chair my sister was sitting in and the wall that stood behind the chair. Ruthie would say, "muv pease," and my sister had to stand up and move her chair, letting Ruthie scoot behind her. She would stay for about 10 seconds and then repeat, "muv pease," starting it all over again. By the forth pass, it was obvious Ruthie was offering my sister comic relief. We laughed at her next pass. Ruthie was the angel and the shepherd that offered my sister, in the midst of profound grief she will carry for the rest of her life, the pure joy only a baby can offer.
Every child is holy, and every baby can remind us that God is with us, and love is made flesh. Come let us adore the baby Jesus with hearts tempered by this year, but still able to wonder. Let us remember as we contemplate him in our hearts, the power in the powerless, the warmth of a star shining in the night, and how babies keep us loving the world with our whole hearts.
Peace and love.
— Becca Stevens
Pictured above, Ruthie, family photo