When you picture the story of Jesus' birth, how do you imagine it? If you were there as a character in the story, what do you think you would see? What would you smell? What would you hear? What would it be like for Mary to give birth in that place? What do you suppose Joseph is thinking/doing? What is the baby feeling or doing?
Read Luke 2:1-20
In his song "This Baby," Steven Curtis Chapman (a father of several children) paints a more realistic view of the baby Jesus than we usually see in paintings or in manger scenes. Here are some of the lyrics:
Click here to view a video with music and lyrics to this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTzbcwsHGZU
Well, He cried when He was hungry,
Did all the things that babies do;
He rocked and He napped on His mother's lap,
And He wiggled and giggled and cooed.
There were the cheers when He took His first step,
And the tears when He got His first teeth;
Almost everything about this little baby
Seemed as natural as it could be.
But this baby made the angels sing,
And this baby made a new star shine in the sky.
This baby had come to change the world.
This baby was God's own son,
this baby was like no other one.
This baby was God with us,
this baby was Jesus.
Notice the ways the child Jesus in the song is like any other child. After hearing the song, what are your first reactions? What caught your attention in the lyrics? How do the lyrics of the song compare with the traditional artistic depictions of the nativity story?
The song says Jesus was unique but it also describes him as a regular kid. Often we think of Jesus as this perfect guy, with a halo around his head, walking on water. Why do you think it might be helpful for us to remember that he was a person just like us as well -- that he cried when he got his baby teeth, that he got hungry, that he played as a child, that he had to go through all the growing pains of the teenage years? What other regular human challenges do you think Jesus faced as he grew up? How might his life as a teenager have been similar to yours?
Jesus changed the world. What do you think about that? How is a baby born as a peasant into a violent culture able to change the world? In what ways do you think the world is different because Jesus was born? In what ways is your life different? What do the lyrics "He showed us heaven with his hands and his heart" mean to you?
Take a moment today to name and pray for "children" of all ages both near and far in need of the good news of God's love that Jesus shared with his life and ministry.
Prayer for Today
Lord, whose light shines in the darkness, have mercy upon us. Christ, whose birth gives hope to all creation, have mercy upon us. Lord, whose advent brings us joy and love, grant us peace. Amen.