Welcome to advent. The time of the year where we are supposed to slow down and anticipate, await, and worship the birth of the Christ child. A moment to pause and remember that a baby was sent our way. Not a dictator, a king, an intellectual sage, a president, a famous world leader, not even a grown man…God sent a baby.
God sent humility. He sent helplessness. He sent an utterly dependent creature, someone who needed a mother and a father, a baby who could not survive on his own. He sent the essence of humanity, an interdependent, tiny little human.
To acknowledge our dependence on one another is to acknowledge some form of humility.
Why did the Christ child come as an infant? I have only a mere guess that in some way he meant to show us, throughout the life of Jesus, that we were not created for isolationism, but for community, we were not created to walk alone, but we were created to depend on others, we were not created strong, powerful, and elite, but we were born as babies who needed milk, shelter, touch, instruction, training, and love.
That Jesus came as a baby represents much. We will explore such thoughts over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. But for some reason I always start here. Jesus needed others; the baby Jesus needed others. It was not a weakness, it was an intricate part of the pattern of life; no one grows up completely alone, no one can make it without another human being, no one just begins existing and functioning completely dependent of the world. Jesus needed a womb. Mary gave birth to him. He needed nurturing. He needed breast milk. He needed caregivers. As he aged he needed the leaders of the synagogue to learn from. He needed disciples to travel with and train. He needed Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (his very good friends). He needed community. Though he was God, he was very much man; he relied on people, he lived in community, he was, as a tiny baby, dependent on many.
We try to do so much on our own. We have championed the stigma that to ask for help, financially, emotionally, or physically means we are weak, incomplete, poor, or ill-equipped to take care of ourselves; asking for help means we are a weak sympathy project for perfect people to take on.
This time of the year we are reminded of the needs of others. The poor. The needy. The hungry. The homeless. We are right to care for those in need. But there are many “normal” people with needs as well, we don't speak about them because it means there is something "wrong" with us, but they are still there. We are needy people. Depression. Bad marriages. Financial burdens. Stress. Worry. Serious doubts of faith. Overworked. Under loved. The list goes on.
What are your needs?
Sometimes I have to suck up my pride and be honest with people. We can’t pay the bills, the car is broken and won’t start (both are true right now), I am tired, and my marriage is hard right now. I need to cry! I need a break! I need some money! I need a friend! I need someone to pray for me!
The art of truly living is found somewhere in humility. Weakness, honesty, and dependence on others…these are hard to admit, even harder to cultivate. I would rather believe that I could miraculously fix all my problems and not ever, ever have to ask for help. But the truth is, I cannot do it alone.
The truth is, I have to talk to a therapist from time to time, I need my ADD medicine to be able to focus and make it through the day, I have to have a good laugh or cry with some girls every week, I need a break and some “me” time every now and then, and with every ounce inside of me screaming NOOOO, I have to let people know that I have flaws and I need some, love, support, and help. Try as I may, I cannot survive alone.
I like that Jesus came as a baby. He could not survive alone either. There is some beauty to that. Only when we are weak do we realize our need for grace. Only when we are helpless do we realize that we cannot make it on our own. Only when weakness and our need for others collide do we truly understand the meaning of humility and grace, do we remember what it means to be an infant, totally reliant on others in the world.
This holiday season as we take moments out to truly reflect on our faith, remember Jesus came as a helpless little person. This was not an accident. It is a beautiful reminder that even the most Holy of Holys came to a young girl and he was crying, hungry, cold, and needing every ounce of her love and attention just to survive. If he could not do it alone, I doubt very seriously that we can.
So…add your name to the prayer list, share one of your burdens or secrets with someone else, or just ask for a little help during the holiday season, because none of us were made to make it on our own…not even Jesus.
It all started with a helpless baby. Welcome, you are invited into the Holy season of advent.