Contemplating Jesus

THE FACE OF GOD

Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

Georges de la Tour (l7th century)

Jesus’ birth in a stable always carries with it a question.  How is it that the Son of God would incarnate like us, come into the world vulnerable, helpless and reliant on his earthly parents for his every need?  To search for an answer requires a change in view from the traditional concept of God.  God as mighty power, creator and ruler of the universe, has been predominantly portrayed in scripture (and art) in human form as a patriarchal law-giver.

But God sends Jesus to remind us of who God really is.  Jesus affirms in Luke 10:23 that no one knows God except the Son, and “to those the Son chooses to reveal God.”  Shepherds in the fields are the first to witness the arrival, simple folk whose duty was to protect their grazing flock.  Something ordinary is being revealed about God.  It’s a pastoral scene, nothing of grandeur or human might.  Yet kings came a long way to bring gifts to a child who, in his innocence, reflects the sort of intimacy that God’s presence invites in the messiness of everyday life.   

Mary and Joseph are participants in God’s plan. Their kindness, gentleness and acceptance reveal in the depth of their souls a humility towards the wonder of God’s gift.   They have the right qualities to help form this baby in the alternative way of being as they too are formed by his presence.   

Yet God’s presence in Jesus isn’t limited to just human experience. Jesus’ birth is therefore not only one in which an historical event is celebrated.   At Christmas Jesus comes again, each year in a different way to each of us.

In exploring our growing relationship with Jesus as child, English mystic Caryll Houselander invites us to “concentrate on the spark of Christ-life in your soul – the Infant Christ in you – as one has to concentrate on keeping the little flame of life burning in a frail little infant.”   She also advised  that when we feel fear or when we just want to “cry and cry like a child” it should not shame us “because they are all part of Christ’s own experience in us.”  *

With childlike trust Jesus at Christmas confirms to us that God welcomes us as we are in our humanity.  He reminds us that when we meet him at the manger, we also meet ourselves in him and he in us.    

Caryll Houselander: Essential Writings pages 75 and 172

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