“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
And the government will be on His shoulders,
And He will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
I was talking to my 4-year old son the other day about when he was a baby. He is fascinated by looking through old pictures. It seems so unreal to him that the baby in the pictures is actually him. He thinks it is quite funny. As we were talking, he started asking me about how he got here (i.e. where do babies come from?) My first thought is, “Aren’t you a little young to be asking me that question?” The thought was then followed by panic and a moment of sheer terror as I grappled with my response. I started talking about God, creation, Adam and Eve. You know, how the first people got here, and so on from there. Lord, have mercy. I don’t know how to explain this stuff to a preschooler!
As I rattled on and on, Jamie kept playing with his Rescue Bots at the table. I was pretty sure he had lost interest by then and was no longer listening (Thank God!). When I got to the part about my being a baby too, explaining that I was in my mommy’s belly before I was born, Jamie dropped his toy and looked up. He stared at me for a second with a strange look of confusion, and then exclaimed, “You were a baby!?” We both laughed at the surprise; he in his radical new discovery that, yes, Mommy was a baby too, and I in my amusement that this thought had apparently never occurred to him before that moment.
I was thinking about this recent conversation in connection with Christmas – the startling realization that God was once a baby too. I don’t think we spent enough time thinking about that. The God of the Universe came to earth, and He chose to come to us as a baby: a small, frail, vulnerable, dependent infant. The more I think about this, the more miraculous it becomes. I think it might warrant a Jamie-like response: astonished, awe-struck wonder!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer spent considerable time contemplating this marvelous truth, and fortunately for us, his writings were published in his book, “God is in the Manger”. I leave you with a few excerpts from his wonderful work in the hope that his profound words will lead you to look more fully at the wonder in the good news of great joy for all people, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord! This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger (Luke 2:11, 12).
“God Became a Child: “Mighty God” is the name of this child. The child in the manger is none other than God Himself. Nothing greater can be said: God became a child. In the Jesus child of Mary lives the Almighty God. Wait a minute! Don’t speak; stop thinking! Stand still before this statement!”
“This is about the birth of a child, not of the astonishing work of a strong man, not of the bold discovery of a wise man, not of the pious work of a saint. It really is beyond all our understanding: the birth of a child shall bring about the great change, shall bring to all mankind salvation and deliverance”
“How shall we deal with such a child? Have our hands, soiled with daily toil, become too hard and too proud to fold in prayer at the sight of this child? Has our head become too full of serious thoughts…that we cannot bow our head in humility at the wonder of this child? Can we not forget our stress and our struggles, our sense of importance, and for once worship the child, as did the shepherds and the wise men from the East, bowing before the divine child in the manger like children?” – From “The Government upon the Shoulders of a Child”, Christmas 1940
O Come let us adore Him: this God who was once a baby!