This is my first Christmas as a mom. My daughter is currently three months old, and as Advent progresses, I repeatedly find myself staring at her tiny face trying to fathom how God himself became not just a human, but a human baby. We talk a lot about the incarnation this time of year – the paradox and mystery of God becoming man. But it is striking me for the first time this Christmas just how impossibly miraculous it is that God became a baby.
A baby — how small and how weak he made himself! What was that Jesus baby like? Was he aware of his deity at birth, or did he come to know it slowly, in the same way my daughter is slowly coming to know herself? Did he begin to stare at his hands when he was three months old, realizing for the first time that they are his and he can move them? Did the God that made the human body go back to ignorance and discover the use of it anew?
Of course the truth is, to the Angels and to the Father, the miracle of God becoming human is no less amazing than God becoming a baby. Because we are like babies compared to Him – how small and how weak!
In C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, the faithful Narnians come to “Aslan’s country” through a stable door. They enter the stable, the tattered fortress of a demon, as a last stand in the last war of that country – a war against a false god. But death comes to them not in blood and sweat and grief, as we have come to expect it, but as a door to pass through into new life, where they find themselves fresh and lovely and no longer bent with sorrow.
Lucy muses “In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”
Bigger than our whole world. The miracle of Christ is a paradox. Something bigger than the world, came into the world, and in the humblest and smallest way – through the womb of a woman. He came in blood and sweat and grief — there is something about giving birth that foreshadows death and resurrection. And he came to take on our death that death might become for us like that stable door.
I like to think that Christ honored all of motherhood by choosing that way into humanness. Mary found herself in the midst of the most unexpected pregnancy in all of human history. Her cousin, Elizabeth, was also surprised by a pregnancy – conceiving a son well into her old age. I’m sure they were both fearful. Mary surely was scorned by her family and community, even her betrothed didn’t believe in her virginity until an angel told him in a dream. And Elizabeth probably worried about whether or not she could even survive childbirth at her age. But the Lord willed John the Baptist to be born, and he willed that he himself would be born a human baby. And Mary and Elizabeth accepted these burdens as blessings – praising the Lord for his goodness.
Perhaps it is a stretch to say that because of this every unexpected pregnancy should be received with joy. But I think it may be right nonetheless. No child is truly unexpected, not if God is sovereign. As Advent gives way to Christmas, let us ponder the mystery that God became one of us, one of the weakest among us, in order that all might be saved from death to life. And with humble gratitude say together, “Come Lord Jesus!”