It began with a real baby.
The set was simple with a few reminders of the setting. A door front and risers welcomed the drama while poinsettias adorned the perimeter. Perfumed air swirled through pews and carried along the anticipation of their occupants. The angel appeared. Teen Mary and Joseph arrived at the inn in costume aside a cute kid dressed as a donkey, trying to balance a large animal mask while situated on all fours. The audience chuckled. The old story was told again and familiar verses, both spoken and sung, fell soft among the candlelight. No room. Mary took her place, center stage at the heart of the nativity. It was the moment every note and word hinged upon.
From a back door, a baby appeared dressed in white, carried by a gal dressed as an angel, and was tenderly placed in the young Mary's arms.
I have been to many Christmas plays, pageants, and the like. I don't remember the last time I saw a real infant play the part of Baby Jesus. Usually it is a doll that may or may not get its head gently whacked on something en route to the manger or threaten to have its real identity exposed as the swaddling clothes partially slide away. It caught me off guard. The sight of the living, breathing little one brought tears to my eyes.
There is Christmas and there is Easter. Then, there were 33 years between. This past year, the part of Jesus' ministry that resonates with added weight is the ministry of His life. There was a day-to-day for him that speaks Hebrews 4:15 in a way that meets me in my day-to-day and year-to-year. I have a clear memory of hearing a favorite author of mine expound this truth highlighting His entire fulfillment of all the law--- law I have such difficulty obeying--- until His death and resurrection on my behalf (Matthew 5, Galatians). The implications of the connection of the God-Man walking this same earth yet without sin are continually astounding. And it isn't only his fulfillment of the law that comforts, but His sympathizing with my weaknesses--- weaknesses that show themselves in more and deeper ways every year that I live.
It is one thing to hear the theology of it and quite another to see the connection to flesh and blood. To know what it is to walk this earth from infancy to adulthood, in a land cursed and in a state of desperation. To experience the thinness of the veil between life and the life to come. To feel the weight of sin and its consequences. To marvel again at the incarnation and see the humanity.
I think as the new year comes, as my thoughts shift toward the months ahead, it would be tempting to consider me and what I want this year to be. Maybe the best hope for me is to consider all that He has done. It is true; The Word became flesh and dwelt among us for us. It is easy enough to focus on all that surrounds Him rather than focusing on Him.
It isn't a new or fancy prayer, but one I need to pray: Lord God, may I know more of You in 2015. Show Yourself to me that I may see You, looking back so that I may move forward in faith. Make known what You have done and give me anticipation of what You have yet to do. Amen.