dec. 17 - child

by Rev. Monique McBride, FUMC Ft. Lauderdale, FL

First, read Isaiah 9:6

“But, why?” said the little boy for the fourteenth time that day. Why is the sky blue? Why do I have to wear nice clothes to church? Who is God? Where is heaven? If you’ve spent any time with a child lately, you know this is a common response to almost any subject. More than innocence or purity, it seems it is children’s ability to question, hope, dream and trust which defines their sense of childhood. Children have a way of breathing life into old traditions, questioning us in ways that rock our sense of truth and challenging us to be the adults we always wished we’d grow up to be. Though we often fail miserably, we strive as the adults of today to make the world a better place and preserve the little bit of our Norman Rockwell childhood we remember (or hoped for) for those yet to come. 

In addition to the innocence of the baby king, I think it might be these qualities of childhood which make the birth and childhood of Jesus so special. Imagine Jesus, age three, asking his parents about the world around him and celebrating in the beauty of nature as God intended. Imagine him at age seven learning to read the scriptures and asking about the faith of Moses and the bravery of Esther. Imagine Jesus as a teenager questioning the inconsistencies of faith and the traditions of the day. We don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood from the scriptures. We only have a few stories about his knowledge of scripture and love for the Father’s house. But, I can only imagine from his adulthood passion and knack for questioning authority, breaking down cultural barriers and reviving the spirits of the faithful that He also possessed these qualities in His childhood days. In fact, I bet Jesus was quite a handful!

Somewhere along the line, we adults tend to lose our childhood abilities to hope, dream and question. Bogged down in the realities and stressors of life, we forget to simply stop and enjoy the world around us and dare to dream the world could be a better place. We forget the beauty of just setting all seriousness aside and pretending to be anything we want to be. I can just picture Jesus, Son of God, with the heart and hope of a child seeing His Father’s world with new eyes and dreaming of something better for all of humanity. I can imagine Jesus praying that the world would be as he hoped and knowing it was his job to make his dreams a reality.

Gracious and Loving Father, may we never lose our childhood abilities to question, hope and dream for a world more like the world you originally intended. With the heart and faith of a child, may we live lives which pursue your Kingdom and love with your grace. Amen. 

As much as we know the story of Jesus’ birth, sometimes we forget the beauty of the baby king. Symbolically, this part of Jesus’ story says so much about the sort of Lord Jesus is and the example of humility and service he would set forth for all of us.  In Jesus’ day, children were of little worth. Unlike today, children were considered property with no worth, rights or respect.

With that in mind, think about the symbolism of the Lord and savior of the world entering the world as a baby of a Jewish peasant girl. Think about your own childhood and your children as they grow. Children have a way of speaking the truth. With new eyes, they see the world and grasp at hope, peace and joy better than we cynical adults tend at times to be able to do. Thus, it seems right for many reasons for Jesus to fulfill the scripture of Isaiah 9:6 and to enter the world as a babe.

On this night, think of a childhood Christmas memory of your own. What made your childhood Christmases special and memorable? What did you do? Who did you spend them with? What foods and movies did you enjoy? Share a tradition with your children tonight. Don’t forget to tell them stories which accompany the activity. What childhood memories of Christmas bring you hope, peace, love and joy?