Theologian Jack Shea once told this story that he calls Sharon’s Christmas Prayer. “She was five, sure of the facts, and recited them with slow solemnity convinced that every word was revelation. She said they were poor—so poor they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat and they went a long way from home without getting lost. The lady rode a donkey, the man walked, and the baby was inside the lady. They had to stay in a stable with a ox and ass (hee-hee) but the Three Rich Men found them because a star lited the roof. Shepherds came and you could pet the sheep but not feed them. Then the baby was borned. And do you know who he was? Her quarter eyes inflated to silver dollars. The baby was God! And she jumped in the air, whirled round, dove into the sofa, and buried her head under the cushion. That is the only proper response to the Good News of the Incarnation.”
Advent is the season of anticipation. Christmas is the season for children. A little child anticipates Christmas morning the way that all of God’s children should anticipate Christ’s birth within us and our birth into Christ’s reign. In this we are reminded that the Incarnation was not a once upon a time fairytale but a reality that is born in our soul. The Word became flesh and dwells in our midst. Unlike C. S. Lewis’ tales of Narnia where it is always winter but never Christmas, for us who are believers the winter is diminished because Christmas lives. What a blessed gift we are given!
We should be like Sharon. Though some of the details of Jesus’ birth remain foggy and are held in dispute, the essential story is there. And it is true. We, too, when recalling it, should leap for joy, whirl around, dive deep into what has been revealed, and bury ourselves in the magnificent wonder of the mystery of the incarnation. It is the only proper response to what occurred once upon a time and is occurring mystically still. God was the baby, and the baby was God. He became one of us. In a place that is always darkness, He is light; in a world of perpetual suffering, He brings redemption; in a land where sin and error pine, He offers divine mercy; in a season that is always winter, He births Christmas.
May your Christmas be magical. As you look upon the Christ-child, touch the child within you: leap…whirl…dive…let your quarter-sized eyes be doubled and quadrupled. Perform spiritual gymnastics appropriate to the season. For a child is born to us. He is our Savior, Christ, the Lord.