When Annika Martin played Jesus in our congregation's Search for the Christ Child, she screamed for 20 of her 40 stage minutes. I like to think Jesus did the same. I can only imagine new mother Mary's uncertainty, "Is he hungry? Do I dare nurse in front of these kings? Maybe he has a dirty diaper. Hard to tell with all these cow piles in here." The December nights I rocked my own newborn and wished I had memorized dozens of lullabies before she was born, I sang whatever came to mind. It was December; I sang carols. Rather quickly I decided that whoever wrote "Away in a Manger" had lived far removed from babies-or had no idea what it meant to be fully human. If my Jesus cried when he approached Jerusalem and realized people don't understand what makes for peace, my Jesus also cried just because that's what human babies do.
One thing I love about Christianity is that Jesus was fully God walking the earth as fully human. What an amazing decision for the Deity to make-to give up all Godly rights and journey alongside us. We all wish God would just explain life's perplexities by writing on the wall, but instead, Jesus experienced them with us and taught us that religion doesn't come in sound bites.
Ever read something so amazing and so timely that you want to share it with the world? That happened to me today during my meditation time when I was reading An Altar in the World (<http://www.amazon.com/Altar-World-Barbara-Brown-Taylor/dp/0061370460/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260841736&sr=8-1>) by Barbara Brown Taylor. That I happened upon this section while also pondering God incarnate at Christmas was not coincidence.
"The glory of God is a human being fully alive," wrote Irenaeus of Lyons some two thousand years ago. One of the reasons I remain a Christian-in-progress is the peculiar Christian insistence that God is revealed in humankind--not just in human form but also in human being. This insistence shows up most often in the Christian claim that God was made known in Jesus. In Jesus, Christians believe, everyone gets a good look at what it means to be both fully human and fully divine-not half and half, as if he walked around with a dotted line down his middle, but fully both, all the time. His full humanity was on full display as he taught, healed, fed, and freed people, just as it was when he honored the poor, defied the powerful, and turned the institutional tables along with his own cheek.
"When I ask people to tell me how Jesus could be both fully human and fully divine, they often describe a kind of laminating process, in which his humanity was encased in divine plastic. The last thing to occur to most of us is that to be fully one is to be fully the other. What is it about "fullness" that we do not understand?
"My advice is not to think about this too much, since thinking about it will not only make you crazy but will also take you out of the world where you can practice being fully human yourself. Jesus clearly thought this was the best plan. When people wanted him to tell them what God's realm was like, he told them stories about their own lives. When people wanted him to tell them God's truth about something, he asked them what they thought. With all kinds of opportunities to tell people what to think, he told them what to do instead. Wash feet. Give your stuff away. Share your food. Favor reprobates. Pray for those who are out to get you. Be the first to say, "I'm sorry." For those who took him as their model, being fully human became a full-time job. It became a vocation in itself, no matter what they happened to do for a living."
This Christmas, as you celebrate the screaming babe in the manger, the fully God/fully human, may you also learn more about what it means to be a God-created and loved, fully human being. Blessings be on your head.
Annika Martin visits my office twice a week with her mother, Krista Martin, administrative assistant. Just a glimpse of her face, crying or laughing, gives me strength to continue my work.