Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Many of you may remeber one of the great theological movies of the past decade- Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby (sarcasm intended). Some of you will remember the scene where Ricky (Will Ferrell) is saying the blessing over a family meal. He begins by praying, "Dear Baby Jesus" (My son Will and our friend David White still joke about beginning prayers that way). A discussion later ensues about the fact that Jesus did in fact grow up and become a man, but Ricky doesn't care. He prefers to think of Jesus as a cute little baby, helpless in the manger. Throughout his prayer he continues to refer to Baby Jesus in more and more descriptive ways, but never advancing him beyond the infant stage.
It occurs to me that far too often we do the same thing with Jesus at Christmas. We have our nativity scenes and our Christmas plays and our scripture readings that focus (quite rightly) on the miraculous birth story of our Savior. But too many times we let the story end there. Like Ricky Bobby, we prefer a Tiny Jesus. Tiny Jesus is cute, cuddly and much easier for us to understand. Tiny J doesn't ask us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Tiny J doesn't remind us to take care of the "least of these." Tiny J doesn't call anyone a "brood of vipers." Tiny J doesn't tell us "to find your life you have to lose it." It is much easier for us if we do not allow Jesus to grow up...
Babies are cute little miracles from God, and we love them. It is no wonder the Christ-child captures out attention. A few years ago we had a tiny little Christmas tree in a room with a 14 foot ceiling, and the room dwarfed it. Now we have a grown up tree that may not be as cute, but is much more impressive. Tiny J may be cute and cuddly and worthy of our praise. But the full-grown Messiah, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings- now that Jesus knows how to fill up a room! The Son of God became the most important person in history. There is such power in his life, his teaching and in his death and resurrection that we cannot ignore his presence. When we allow Jesus to grow up, it is no longer enough to bring gold or myrrh. The only gift that is sufficient is to offer him our lives.
So this Christmas season celebrate the birth of the infant Christ-child. Worship the babe as the shepherds did all those years ago. Rejoice in his coming to our world. Read the Luke 2 stories of that most holy night. Just be sure to keep reading- and watch that baby grow into a man who would one day save the world...
My Deliverer is Coming,