Wineskins Archive

February 6, 2014

A Different Kind of Christmas (Nov-Dec 2000)

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by Robert Beasley
November – December, 2000

Christmas 1995. A very meaningful Christmas. A very meaningful one, indeed. Because on this Christmas, I was awaiting my firstborn son. While others were eagerly awaiting December 25, my wife and I were eagerly anticipating January 16, the due date for an event that would change our lives forever. While others were scurrying around to do last minute shopping, my wife was achy and tired, ready to delivery the one we would come to know and love as Jackson Robert Beasley.

Our hearts were warmed that Christmas. We felt something different. We felt a bond with Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. When the carolers sang “unto us a child is born” it touched our hearts in a different way, for unto us our child was coming. When we heard Amy Grant singing “Love has come for the world to know,” we knew what she was talking about. For we were being embraced by Love. My wife was sharing more than her womb with Jackson. Every tender tissue of his body, every sinew, muscle, and bone wound our love more tightly around this little one. The blood coursing through my wife’s veins to his pulsating heart was carried there by more than biological forces. The messenger was Love, a Love we did not initiate or create. It was already there before we arrived. We were being invited to taste more fully of this Love, to share the secret of the Universe, the warm glow of Love. Love was already there, we were just coming to the party.

Because of our son, we understood the Son better. Because we were witnessing the miracle of life being formed from nothing, we had not doubt that a child could be conceived by the touch of God alone. Because our hearts were buoyed by the newness of the life to come for our baby, we sang all the more loudly of the “dawn of redeeming grace.” Our faith in the miraculous, in the “magic” of life itself, and in the sheer power of God was being elevated to new heights.

That December, I understood why Christmas affects so many people. While I realize the real change in this world occurred some 33 years after Jesus’ birth, there is something in the birth of the baby Jesus that touches us like nothing else can. There is something in the singing of “holy infant so tender and mild” and the “the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay” that tugs at our emotions. Babies. Tender, tiny babies. Babies make us cry! Babies make us laugh! Babies thrill our hearts! Babies touch our souls, because we see in babies the preciousness of life itself. A baby brings such great promise, such renewed hope, such gentle assurance that life is, after all, good. We care for babies because of their helplessness. We coo over babies because of their sweetness, innocence, and beauty. And we are sobered by babies because we realize that we, too, at one time were babies. We too were born with innocence, sweetness, and beauty. We were all babies at one time.

And so, in a way, the birth of Jesus touches us in a way the death and resurrection of Jesus cannot. As we think of the little Lord Jesus lying in a cow trough turned manger, as we imagine him cooing, sighing, and breathing ever so lightly, stillness sweeps over our souls. The angelic voices of the children’s choir singing “O Holy Night” echo off the church walls and down to the sacred solitude of our hearts. Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright.

God has our attention. Speak, God. We will listen. And he says not a word. He just comes. He comes to us. He comes to us as we are. He comes as a baby. The God whom we thought was far off is near. The God whom we thought could not understand at all understands completely. The God whom we thought was so distant from daily life is involved in every human experience. Our God was delivered through the birth canal into a stench-filled stable. Just as we were all babies at one time, God also became a baby. God is Emanuel. God is with us.

As Chris Rice syas in “Welcome to Our World” (Deep Enough to Dream, Clumsy Fly Music, 1995):

Fragile finger sent to heal us

Tender brow prepared for thorns

Tiny heart whose blood will save us

Unto us is born

Unto us is born.

So wrap our injured flesh around you,

Breathe our air and walk our sod,

Rob our sin and make us holy,

Perfect Son of God.

Welcome to our world.

Holy infant, so tender and mild. As I peer into the manger, see the Baby and hear Him coo, a thought rushes over me. I cannot think about it for the shame it brings, but I must. I cannot bear to imagine it, but I must – it is my only hope. Although the thought fills me with the chill of shamefulness and horror, it gives me a joy that bows my head in utter gratitude. For when I think about my son, I think about His Son. As my son was born into the world, I could not imagine giving him away to another family, much less to a family that would abuse him, mistreat him, misunderstand him, despise him, curse him, and kill him. My heart won’t let me feel the pain – it is too much. My child would never be given to such a family! Could I do what God did? No, absolutely not! You’re not getting my son!

And in that thought, I am awed and amzed by the Love that never quits. By the Love that knows no bounds. By the Love that loves me that much. This Son is the center of the party, the party my wife and I were invited to attend. The pulsating heart of the Universe is the Love of God that stoops to share every hurt and heartache, every failure and fear, every pain and, yes, every punishment. This is the God that stoops to share every hurt and heartache, every failure and fear, every pain and, yes, every punishment. This is the God who goes to your corner of shame and regret and whispers, “You really are forgiven. Here is my Son. He will receive what your guilt tells you that you deserve. You are free. Please, now, please come to me. Please, come to the party. See, I’ll carry you in my arms to the party.”

I am on my knees, because all I can do in the midst of such sacrifice is worship.Wineskins Magazine

Robert Beasley

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