As a parent, I take great joy in planning and purchasing the gifts that will bring delight to my children. The Father’s joy and anticipation must grow as we journey through Advent. I wonder if in the midst of the season — while we are rushing around buying gifts, baking cookies and attending parties — God’s greatest gift will pass us by unnoticed.
Will we quickly unwrap the gift, offer our obligatory thanks and rush on to the next event? In our culture of seizing the day, will we pause and catch our breath this Christmas and receive Jesus? Can each of us reach down into the manger, gently pick up Jesus and cradle Him in our arms?
Linger a long while and notice His swaddling clothes wrapped around His tiny newborn body. In awe and reverence, look into His eyes. Receive His look of tenderness, gentleness and love. Just for the moment, slow down long enough to really see with the eyes of your heart and feel the gift of God’s Son with your body and soul.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son” (John 3:16 MSG).
Imagine holding Jesus close and become aware of your feelings. Express your innermost thoughts and feelings to Jesus. For several moments, listen to hear what He wants to say to you. Pause, and in the silence, let His message echo through your heart and mind. Marveling, remain with Him, awake with Him and enter into this moment of His birth.
Be enclosed with Jesus. Enter into the endless delight Jesus experiences in being with you. For even now, we can hear the echo of our Savior’s words in the garden, “Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). Be with Jesus this Christmas season for He has promised to be with us always.
As we gaze into His beautiful eyes, it is easy to see how much an infant Jesus needs us to care for Him, to love and cherish Him. Fully God, fully human, in this moment Jesus needs us, and all throughout His life he will need His mother Mary and His father Joseph, His disciples, His friends and His family for He is like us in every way. At Christmas time, we deeply recognize our need of each other, our need of a Savior.
As he is laid gently in the manger, we see that he too was enclosed here on earth — first in Mary’s womb, now in a manger, later as an immigrant in Egypt, as a carpenter and on a cross. What encloses you today? Can you, like Jesus, consent to be enclosed? Can you be everything God created you to be — nothing more, nothing less — within your life and limitations? We too like Jesus can pour out our hearts to God, honestly and openly sharing the experience of being human.
As Charles Wesley wrote in the hymn “And Can It Be,” “He left His Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite His grace; emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race. … Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
Yet bliss resulted from Jesus being enclosed for us. We can fix “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
As in the beautiful tapestry “The Adoration of the Magi” by Edward Burne-Jones, can you bring your crown and set it at His feet, surrendering to God’s great love for you? Anticipating God’s goodness, with your hands and your heart held high, lift up your emptiness. Wait in alert expectation. This waiting is very different from the worlds rushing about, seizing, grasping, pushing and shoving. It is fully alive, pulsing, glimmering, a soft breeze, a light scent and a gentle whisper.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:9–12).
- What would you have said to Jesus if you could have held Him as an infant
- What did it mean for Jesus, God’s Son, to be enclosed by human limitations?
GLENDA CAMPOS is a spiritual director who attends Living Spring Christian Fellowship in Garden Grove, California. She has served most of her career as an educator, most recently as an English teacher. She also worked as a small group coordinator for First Free Methodist Church in Seattle, Washington.5