The Lord was born on Earth — on our planet. Once upon a time, our Savior, the Lord God Jesus Christ, walked on this very surface. He was born as an infant, a tiny, helpless baby: dependent on the willingness of a young woman and a young man to take care of Him. I cannot begin to wrap my mind around that!
Every year, it hits me that this really happened. Our savior was a real human. At one point, He was so small that He could not speak words. At one point, our Savior was learning how to walk! When I was a child, I asked my father if Jesus, as an infant, could have looked at a tree and already known what it was. Even as a child, I was thinking about how it could be that the God of the universe was once an infant! And He was born for us. My heart feels the awe of it.
Christmas is often overwhelming for many: the stress of getting everything done combined with far too much sugar and not enough sleep. However, my experience has shifted drastically. I still cry from too much sugar, not enough sleep, and the pressure of getting it all done, but the most overwhelming feeling in December is awe. I think about the reality of the Christmas story and what it took for everyone to play his or her part. Jesus Himself is obviously the most important focus of the story. How often do we think of the Lord’s innocence: the trust it took for Him to come as an infant, dependent on the innocence of others to do their part? He was dependent on the willingness of others to trust in the Divine and eternal plan. This is true innocence: a willingness to be led by the Lord. It is not naivete or guiltlessness. It is trust! Mary’s willingness is another strong focus: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord, let it be to me according to thy word.” I am amazed by the innocence and trust it required to accept this magnificent job with humility. Motherhood is one of the highest uses there is — especially to mother Jesus Christ.
There is of course the innocence of the shepherds and the magi in hearing and seeking Christ, but an often overlooked figure is Joseph. I am always in awe of Mary, but, in the past few years, I have been quite touched by Joseph.
He was a real human man, waiting to be married to this young woman, and, “before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”
And Joseph her husband, being just, and not willing to expose her to public infamy, intended to send her away privately. And while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take to thee Mary thy wife, for that which is begotten in her is from the Holy Spirit. And Joseph, being awakened from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had directed him, and took to him his wife. (Matthew 1:19-20, 24)
There is something about the path he was already walking: he was already trying hard to do the right thing. Being a good man, he was not going to do anything to disgrace Mary publicly. He wanted to protect her, so he was trying to do the best with the information he had. This made him perfectly willing to hear the Lord’s explanation when he received it. Joseph’s willingness is incredible to me — and a perfect example of innocence.
That willingness to be led by the Lord, being open and willing to hear His path for us is what we should all be striving toward. He loves us, and He is there telling us the way to go if we are willing to listen. Joseph was willing. Time and time again, I am struck by the way he listens and immediately does what the Lord tells him to do.
And when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph, saying, Arise and take the little Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be there until I tell thee; for Herod is about to seek the little Child to destroy Him. And when he arose, he took the little Child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt.” (Matthew 2:13-14)
Reading it now makes me cry. Who does that? Who drops everything and follows the Lord? Everything about the Christmas story makes me cry, but I have been so touched by the masculine wisdom, the moral courage simply to do the Lord’s will.
I cannot help but feel a similar state of trust at Christmas time. It is the most incredible experience. I feel humbled every December. Jesus was born on earth.
Last December, I cried when my 9 year old niece sang How Far Is It To Bethlehem. This line in particular overwhelmed me: “Will He know we’ve come so far just for His sake?” I am struck by the innocence of little children singing about coming to the Lord. There is a reason innocence is linked with children.
We are supposed to become like little children. As an adult, it can be hard to feel that receptive state. Doing things “just for His sake” is a remarkable innocence that can be hard to achieve. However, the reason it is achievable, the reason that we can become like little children is because God Himself did. Because He came as a child, we too can become like little children. The Lord offers Himself to us year round, but I feel a special reception of that innocence at Christmas time. I think that that is one of the best gifts we can receive for Christmas: the willingness to be led by the Lord.