““Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’””
This is what the snow looked like this afternoon.
Rather like a wee fuzzy polar bear, huh? Lumps and bumps and divets, all wearing a fur coat of white. It sparkled in the pale winter sun, icy feathers reflecting light like tiny mirrors.
Soft. Innocent. Non-threatening.
Unless you lose touch with its power.
I have a healthy respect for snow. If I were to remove my gloves and get up close and personal for a few moments, no biggie. I know my limits. My hand would melt some crystals and lose heat in the process. Back on the gloves would go, I’d have a new memory stored in my brain, and life would move pleasantly forward at its own pace.
But I know that if I were to remove my ski pants, parka, and snow boots and hang out for a while – I’d be risking life and limb. See, snow goes both ways. Delicate dazzle and danger, purity and power in a tightrope balancing act. Both are true. Both exist at once.
So too, a Christmas baby.
Absolutely pure and innocent. God in rented skin, relying on a human liver and heart to survive.
Yet powerful enough to shatter time and space and create a cosmos, a closed ecosystem from scratch – power we can’t even begin to imagine.
Perhaps, the baby was to woo us. Draw us cheek to cheek, heart to heart with a Being too big to comprehend. Perhaps we were meant to relate to this One who became us, so that we could understand the One who had largely remained misunderstood for millennia.
But Christmas goes both ways.
Yes, a baby in a manger. Innocent. Sweet. Apple-cheeked and non-threatening in His infancy, His complete helplessness.
But so too, a baby who grew up. Lived among us. Got the flu and skinned His knees and felt deeply the disappointment and chaos of life. A boy who became a man and did an extraordinary thing – laid down His life to make a way for us to come back to His Father.
Accepting the baby means accepting the claims of the Man.
God with us.
Innocent baby, swaddled in a feeding trough.
But don’t lose touch with His power. Don’t get lost in the cuteness of the nativity and miss the whole point.
God with us.
See, Christmas is just the first step of God in full-on battle mode, fighting the power of sin once and for all in the greatest sacrifice ever made, dying a brutal death to ensure our safety.
It goes both ways.
Treat the Babe of Bethlehem with a new respect with me?
Father, we forget that the baby You sent had a purpose – dying a sacrificial death. But the image of the baby is inseparable from that powerful reality. Remind us this Christmas to see further than the manger, and draw us all the way to Your cross. Amen.