Tag Archives: Manger

inside homebound luggage (4/4)

27 Jun

Shhh. Don’t tell Amanda or Matt.

It is their wedding gift.

nativity set 01

It is from Bethlehem. I carried it home myself.

It is olive wood. All wrapped up are shepherds and sheep, kings and a camel, a donkey and a manger.

When Amanda was very little, and before her brother Cody was born, she saw everything in terms of a mommy, a daddy and a baby. When she saw deer, it was a mommy, a daddy and a baby. If she saw cows in a field, it was a mommy, a daddy and a baby. Everywhere she looked, there was a mommy, a daddy and a baby. She always saw her own stable, safe and secure life reflected elsewhere – everywhere.

This gift is for Amanda and Matt. It is for their first Christmas together. It is … yes, you know what it is. It is will be so much fun for me to tell her that it is from Bethlehem itself. It is for their new home together. In this “stable” scene there is the promise of safety and security for them – in Jesus born among us and through Jesus living within us. 

In this olive wood Nativity set there is “a mommy, a (foster) daddy and a baby.” We will now wait to see how long it takes after their wedding until we get word that there will be in their home a mommy, a daddy – and a baby!

God in Diapers

1 Jan


The one who reads aloud the Gospel of the visit of the shepherds must make the appropriate pause, lest it sound like “they found Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger.” All three of them lying in the manger together sounds cozy, but cramped. Yet the failure to pause (and the accompanying chuckle) gives us pause to remember that God chose to be that close to us. God has invited us into that kind of intimacy with him.

What we celebrate on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God is quite simple: “God chose to have a mother. God chose Mary to be that mother.” That is amazing. If it were not so true, it would be unbelievable.

God chose to have a mother. I had no choice. I had to have a mother or I would not exist. God, who creates everything, chose to be a creature. God did not choose be like us; God chose to be one of us. God, who creates every mother, chose to have a mother. The woman he chose for his mother, he himself had created. God, who creates all life that lives in the womb, chose to live in the womb. God chose to be born and to wear diapers. God chose to be held, changed and nursed. That is outlandish. If it were not so true, it would be unbelievable.

God chose as his mother someone who was humble and simple, trusting and loving, brave and strong. God chose Mary to be his mother. When Mary felt movement within her, she was feeling God within her. When she felt a kick, she was feeling God’s foot. When she held her baby and smelled him, she smelled something of herself, and she smelled something of divinity and eternity. When she slobbered him with motherly kisses, she was kissing the face of God.

We call him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Prince of Peace. We call her God-bearer, God-birther, Mother of God. If it were not so true, it would be unbelievable.

The painting above is by American painter Morgan Weistling. “Kissing the Face of God” is lovely and tender. Take a generously long look at the painting, savor the emotion, and then maybe ask Mary to kiss the face of God for you.

[Thank you to Caitlin Kennell Kim of Busted Halo  for the inspiration and for many of the words I have used.]

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