Mr Pilgrim was once bemused by me explaining to our crying Advent baby (Small Boy) that Away in a Manger wasn’t an accurate reflection of the incarnation.
God became a baby. The more I think about this, the more incomprehensible it becomes and the more overwhelmed I am by the contrast between the one who spoke the universe into being and a baby.
I hang out with babies. They can’t do much. Many mammalian offspring are born highly developed (a baby giraffe can stand and walk an hour after birth) but human babies are incredibly helpless and dependent. The first three months are now commonly called the fourth trimester as a way of expressing the vulnerability of a newborn. They’re outside-inside needing cuddles, snuggles and the familiar sound of a heartbeat.
And God became a vulnerable baby and this God-baby (Jesus) would have cried (just as my baby does) when hungry or tired or needing to be changed. And why? I love the way the Storybook Bible puts it: ‘The God who flung planets into space and kept them whirling around and around, the God who made the universe with just a word, the one who could do anything at all – was making himself small. And coming down … as a baby. Wait. God was sending a baby to rescue the world?‘