The stage was empty but for two chairs, a manger and a Christmas tree, the fake kind with colored lights and a skinny, metal trunk. My entertainment expectations ran unusually high as I remembered that the actors were barely as old as the baking soda in the back of my fridge; way too old for baking soda, not so old for people.
They filed out onto the stage, looking wide-eyed into the crowd of grown-ups and camera flashes. All the nativity characters were accounted for: a too-tall-for-her-age Mary; a small, red-headed Joseph; a donkey who walked on his hind legs. There were angels and sheep and 3 wise men and an inn keeper (the only one with actual lines). As chaotic as it was, I felt myself relax and watch the story as told through these little ones.
And the tears came as they always do when I watch kids on stage. It doesn’t matter if they’re mine or not, it only matters that they’re small, innocent, and learning. What are they thinking about this whole scene? We’ve heard the story so many times, but they are so new. They don’t have all the details yet, but they don’t seem to doubt that it could all be true.
I watched as the babies retold the coming of a baby. Babies come into the world as little reflecting mirrors of the grown ups around them. The fact that they exist brings out the best and also the worst in us — the round the clock care, the constant dependency and availability. You would think a little baby would give us opportunity to show off how strong and capable we are, how able we are to care for them. They are so small, after all. And we are so big.
As it turns out, babies do the very opposite, revealing our weak, our need, our limited supply. This Emmanuel is no different. He reflects for us our neediness and weakness. And the wonder of the story is that even as he exposes the need, his is the presence that meets it. God with us becomes God in us, and the strength found in weakness becomes living and active and true.
As we sat down after the performance, eating our cookies with red punch, it was announced that Joseph threw up and Mary had a fever and so we decided to carry our wonder safely home. But I did not quickly forget the beauty of weakness as told through the wide-eyed wonder of those four-year-olds. What helps you remember the wonder of God With Us?
by Emily Freeman, Chatting at the SkyLeave a Comment