catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 22 :: 2008.12.05 — 2008.12.19


Hi, there

The joy of incarnation

Unless you’re half dead, the sight of a newborn infant will almost instantly evoke a response. You coo, you lean over and touch the face, you try to put some expression to the deep well of mystery that the sight of new life creates in you and end up with something banal and simple like: “Well, hi there.”

And what better thing to say, really, than a simple word of welcome? Because that is the essence of what we want to communicate to a new baby: we are glad you are here, we will take care of you, we want to get to know you, we will protect you.  Already, we love you.

I wonder if Mary was rendered speechless the moment she looked into her baby’s eyes. I am sure she traced over his skin the way all new mothers do, touched his face, held him close in her arms. To me, the most significant message of the incarnation comes not in lofty words but in the simple act of a mother picking up her newborn and being overcome with the urge to greet him: “Hi, there.”

With that gesture of skin on skin, Mary welcomes something far greater than herself. With that gesture, a new story is set in motion, one very different from what people were expecting. What does it mean that Christ came as an infant instead of a mighty warrior? What if he had simply appeared on earth in full battle dress, shining in glory-how would we have responded? When faced with the power of his greatness, would we have fallen at his feet in adoration, longed for his approval, sought after even the smallest admiring glance coming our way? But coming as a child-what could that mean?

Simply this-coming as a child, he gave us no choice from the very beginning but to touch him, no choice but to pick him up and hold him close in our arms. It was never an option for him to be a Savior set apart, he was a Savior who came close with skin on skin giving a message of intimacy deeper than that any warrior in all his conquering majesty ever could. And what does he speak coming into the dark of our Bethlehem, his infant arms flailing in the night, this son of God made human, insisting he come that close to us? He speaks the timeless truth directly to our hearts, a truth of great joy we can wrap around us this Christmas and forever, truth of a loving Savior coming down to tell us: I am with you. I always have been.

To which news our aching hearts can have but one reply, welling up from the deepest places of longing, welcoming into the world the promise of hope whispered at the dawn of creation: “Hi, there.”

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