In past winters (although mercifully not this one thus far), my first job every morning was to dig baby Jesus out of the previous night’s accumulation of snow. If the wind is strong, baby Jesus occasionally gets blown out of his manger, and I have to keep putting him back in. Fortunately, he is connected to an electrical extension cord so he can be “a Light to the Neighborhood” so he can only blow away so far. But my baby Jesus is a lot of work. He’s completely helpless.
Come to think of it, plastic babies aren’t the only ones that are completely helpless. Flesh and blood babies are helpless too. They can’t feed themselves, change themselves, clean themselves, transport themselves or anything else. About the only thing they can do is cry, which is literally a cry for help.
William Willimon has written:
Nothing is so helpless, so dependent, so fragile, so frail as a baby. I know of no other religion so bold as to admit to the possibility of its god appearing in so vulnerable a form. How scandalously condescending is the love of this God who deems to meet us first as a baby. How threatening is this God to my human desire for an aloof, Platonic deity who lives in the realm of the abstract, self-contained ideal, rather than in the stable out back, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. For most of the year we preach about humanity’s need for God. But on Christmas, can we be so bold as to speak of God’s need for humanity--a God who comes, reaching out to us, as a baby, needing the love, warmth, and nurture of an utterly human family? (On a Wild and Windy Mountain, p. 25)
©2004 C. David Hess