But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (Luke 2:10-14).

Our oldest child, Konami, was confirmed this year. It’s hard for me to believe that my little baby is now in high school. I remember when my husband, Benhi, gave Konami his first haircut. He was about 2 years old and had a gorgeous thick, curly, brown afro. But when it was buzzed off, his little toddler face all but disappeared. It was as if he had instantly matured. It felt like my baby was gone and there was a little boy standing where my toddler used to be.

Certainly it is our hope that our children will live abundant, long lives. It’s our prayer that each of them will reach their fullest potential as they grow into adulthood and beyond. Oh, but the mommy in me cherishes the “baby” I see in each of my children’s faces. Even though I might complain about being overwhelmed at times with the challenges of parenthood, I do relish our tender moments with our children and wish they would last forever.

I wonder if we do the same with Jesus? It’s so easy to worship the babe in the manger. It’s so simple to come and adore the newborn king. On some level, do we try to keep Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothing? But if we stay at the nativity, we miss the opportunity to, like Jesus, grow in wisdom and favor.

Do we try to keep Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothing?

The manger is lovely. But baby Jesus was born in the shadow of the cross. As his disciples, we follow this babe into the wilderness for 40 days where we witness our Savior being tempted by Satan. We don’t want to go there. We want to stay at the little town of Bethlehem. Perhaps we want a Jesus who will keep us comfortable, unchallenged. Not even Mary and Joseph had that luxury.

When they brought Jesus to be presented at the temple, Simeon held infant Jesus and prophesied. His prophecy also included a word for Mary: “a sword will pierce your own soul too.” During Jesus’ preteen years when his family visited the temple, we read of Mary and Joseph who are anxious to find their missing son, only to find him in his Father’s house where he was astounding the teachers with his understanding and his answers. If Jesus’ ministry wasn’t comfortable for his parents, should we expect any different? Our Savior calmed the sea and rocked the boat. We really can’t have one without the other.

That little baby Jesus grew strong in wisdom and favor, and our faith should grow as well. The cross is in the crèche. Therefore, the Christmas miracle calls us to be a friend of sinners, to judge not and to give of ourselves. The Christmas miracle calls us to face rejection and embrace the cost of true discipleship. It calls us to face betrayal, just like Jesus did.

So as we continue to sing our Christmas hymns, remember that behind every word, every note, every verse is Jesus’ entire ministry. Within each joyful melody is the life, death and resurrection of the newborn king. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago, remember that we are part of the Christmas miracle. The Christmas miracle is in our midst. God has revealed God’s self to us through Jesus. We celebrate the radical, awesome, incredible proclamation of the incarnation—the Word continues to dwell among us!

Jesus is born today and every day. Jesus is born in his gathered people. Jesus is born in you. Jesus is born in me. Jesus is born in us.

Angela T. !Khabeb
Angela T. !Khabeb is an ELCA pastor living in Minneapolis. She enjoys an active home life with her husband and three children. 

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