I sat listening to our Christmas Cantata at church Sunday morning. I so enjoyed the music that filled my ears and my heart. I saw my littlest one singing along and excitedly exclaiming when she heard the trumpets sounding, “Oh, It’s Jesus! He’s here!!” I smiled. I whispered her sweet proclamation to Stan. He smiled too. It warmed our hearts. I so missed being a part of that community of voices myself. I sing in the choir as much as a busy mama of three can, while serving my husband and kids first. Since beginning motherhood, I have had seasons of attendance in the choir and seasons of rest from the choir to attend to the ministry of my home.
The ministry of my home. This ministry is one of divine importance, none would disagree. It, however, is often a place of forced humility as I am stripped of my veneer…my polished edges…my painted on bright lips and eyes that pop. It is a place that makes me think about the stable where the King of Kings was born. A place where the realness of being human can physically hurt. A place where small miracles unfold. A place where my need for Christ is fully realized, fully embraced and fully experienced. A place where, though I seek shelter there, I also face fears there that keep me from being fully present at times.
Outside my home, I am dressed and tucked in. I am combed and brushed, clean and scrubbed, covered, laced and buttoned. I appear ready for each day and its happenings. I greet others with a smile, and most often it is even genuine. I try to share kindness with all those I encounter. I stiffen my upper lip, I hold my head up high and I do my very best to represent Christ well.
But, when I get home, I take off my shoes, my dress clothes, my make up…and I look around at my family, my belongings, my life behind closed doors. In the quiet corners of my kids’ rooms, my room, our kitchen, our common areas…where we are all hanging on by a thread in this life…we are tired, raw and we are real with each other. We are gathered in our own stable and we are looking for the promised baby in the manger.
We see the dirt, both literally and metaphorically – the dirt of our sinfulness. Some of it can be cleaned and wiped away, some of it has stained. We go through periods of deep cleaning and other periods of surface dusting, depending on the condition of our hearts. We feel the cold as the chill from outside life slips under the doors biting us in a surprise as we jerk away and run for warmth of our people who are gathered around the manger with us. We smell the stench of manure that can come in the form of harsh words spoken, doors slammed shut or pregnant silence afraid to deliver hard truths. We hear the wrestling of leaves and grass as someone approaches…
And then, we hear the littlest one say, “Oh, It’s Jesus!! He’s Here!” Oh, sweet little child, we are thinking…sweet little child without the experience to fully know what she is talking about, it’s not Jesus. Or is it? The sweet little girl doesn’t think about who else it should or could be. She doesn’t think about what a King is “supposed” to look like. She just hears the trumpets sound, while we hear the rustling of leaves and grass… and she pronounces, “Oh, It’s Jesus! He’s Here!”
This ministry in my home. It may be more for me than for my kids. I find that my kids teach me just as much, if not more, about faith than I teach them. The absolute unashamed acceptance with which they embrace the story of Christ rocks me to my core. The many questions that swirl in my mind and in the minds of my close friends crowd out that childlike faith. Jesus said, “Unless you turn to God from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore anyone who humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And any of you who welcomes a little child like this because you are mine is welcoming me and caring for me.” (Matthew 18:3-5)
Children are dependent. They are reliant on the people caring for them to provide basic needs. They look to those same adults for guidance in how to approach this world and the hurts it hurls. Children are trusting by nature. It is experience with mistrust and distrust that taints them as they grow. Children have no status or influence in the hierarchy of man. But, Jesus had something different to say about children…and just how much we can be influenced by them. Just like Jesus did and does, He turns the world’s ideas and opinions on their heads, rejecting the status quo and the soldier march of societal expectations. Jesus highlight’s the littlest and the weakest. He recognizes their pureness and strength. He throws out all of the questions of the “wise” adults…those who question every detail, the skeptics, who sneer, “just how did this Jesus enter this world as a baby” – not possible.
You see, nothing is impossible with God. This is not just a saying that Christians toss out. It is real. It is as real as the air that you breathe. It is as real as the miracle of life. It is as real as the pain that the world inflicts on the most tender of hearts. It is as real as sheer honest, unashamed belief and trust of a child…and in this case, of my child, who proclaims…when she hears the trumpets sound, “Oh, It’s Jesus! He’s Here!!!”
What would it look like if we all embraced Jesus as the little baby He showed up as many years ago. What would it look like if instead of tossing out questions, we looked at the miracle of His life, as we do all life and we paused, took a breath and came to Him as a little child. It is not hard. It is not complicated. It is. What in the world do you have to lose, by trusting that there is more to this life than the hurt, pain and confusion we adults see all around?
Come as little children, come and worship the King of Kings…presented to us as a babe in a manger, reminding us of the pure simplicity of faith. And let us all listen for the trumpets. Let us watch the little children. They hear those trumpets. Let us all proclaim together this Christmas, “Oh, It’s Jesus! He’s Here!”