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Why Christmas I: Why a Baby?

Why did God send Jesus into the world as a baby? Scripture gives us many ways to answer the question: Jesus came as a baby in order to live a normal human life and thus sympathize with us. Jesus came to re-live Israel’s history, overcoming by faith where Israel had failed. Jesus came as a baby in order to be a sign, a signal of the re-birth of humanity. Jesus came as a child because children demonstrate faith, trust and dependance in a special way.

But one key aspect of Jesus’ advent is what His coming as a baby means for our understanding of power and weakness. Who, given the option, would choose a baby to save the world? Only someone with a very different idea of how power and weakness really work. God looks at a helpless baby and sees exactly what He needs to topple kings and kingdoms.

It is this story that brings God the most glory, even more glory than floods, plagues, and walls that fall down. There is definitely glory in being the strongest and winning, but how much more glory is there in being the weakest and defeating the strongest anyway! When people embrace weakness, the victory cannot be because of their power; it must be God’s. Man’s weakness means more glory for God, and no one is weaker than a baby.

This lesson affects our worship, because it means a rejection of our own strength when it comes to salvation. We bring nothing but weakness to our salvation, and anything that we claim for ourselves detracts from the glory of God in saving us. If we offer even one self-made and not Jesus-dependent reason for why God chose to save us, we are going for the power play instead of glorifying God through our weakness.

This lesson also affects our community, because it models for us a way of relating to one another that doesn’t depend on power and control. This sort of thinking creates a community where it is okay for the hand to say to the eye “I need you”, rather than saying “You need me”.

In a power community, you need to keep up appearances. You can’t actually tell someone that you are fighting for your life against porn, or greed, or selfishness, because you don’t want to look spiritually weak. You can’t let on that your heart is broken, that you need help and encouragement, because that involves weakness.

But consider instead a community built around embracing weakness instead of masking it. You find that the people you were trying to keep up with are also weak. More importantly, in their weakness, they discovered strength in God, and now they can show you where true power is found. God is producing in us the kind of community that He wants to see – a community that takes its cues from a mighty Savior who humbled Himself and came as a baby.

This truth needs to shape our mission: how often do we dodge our responsibilities and pass on opportunities with the excuse that we don’t know enough, aren’t big enough, or don’t have enough. God thinks completely opposite – those are not disqualifiers, they are prerequisites! Precisely when we are weak, it is then that we are strong! God delights to use small, hesitant voices taking baby steps in sharing the gospel and inviting friends to church. You don’t feel ready? Perfect.

So can our little congregation really have an impact on Annapolis? And are our humble means – preaching the gospel through Word and Sacrament, inviting people into our homes to share Christian hospitality, singing Psalms, and praying – are these weak tools enough to actually do anything worthwhile? The baby in the manger tells us yes. God brought Jesus into the world as a baby because His power is made perfect in weakness.

Posted on Thursday, January 09, 2014 by CJ Bowen