Years ago, housesitting for a friend who was also pastor to Ronald Reagan, the phone rang. My wife picked it up and heard Nancy Reagan on the other end.
She panicked. I panicked. Totally discombobulated, we made her wait on the phone in the kitchen; neither of us wanted to talk to her—or could’ve actually talked to her—the person.
A person is the breath of God in dirt; a person is an “I” with some accumulated “me.”
Over time, a person acquires a persona.
And sometimes the persona is so imposing, it utterly hides the person.
I suspect that’s why famous people are often such lonely people.
“The central idea of the great part of the Old Testament,” wrote G. K. Chesterton, “may be called the idea of the loneliness of God.”
I wonder if God ever feels like Nancy Reagan waiting on the phone, or a lonely beauty queen, wondering if anyone actually loves her—the person.
Supposedly, Norma Jean Mortensen once said to a friend, “Everybody loves Marilyn Monroe, until they find out that she’s me and then they leave.”
It’s shocking to see the baby picture of someone like Marilyn Monroe, that is, Norma Jean Mortensen—you suddenly realize there is a person under all that persona.
A baby is a person without much persona, an “I” without much accumulated “me.”
When I was a baby, I was just as much “I” as I am now.
However, I hardly had any “me” (I had no resume whatsoever).
But my mom loved me just because I was.
And I still long to be loved just because “I am.”
Does God long to be loved just because he is “I Am?”
One night after a busy day, talking to important people who thought they knew me, as I was tucking my three year old daughter into bed, she grabbed my head, pulled it to her chest and said, “I’ll be the big mommy, and you be the little baby.”
And for a moment I think I was.
She didn’t know how the sermon went. She asked for no favors and made no demands. She patted my head and said, “I love you little baby.”
And in that moment, I rested.
In that moment, she knew me (or “I”) better than anyone in the world.
I wonder if that’s how God felt as Mary held Jesus to her breast?
In that moment, she knew God better than Moses at the burning bush, better than Job staring into the whirlwind, better than Isaiah in the heavenly throne room.
She held God to her breast, and she was not consumed by fire.
Is that because God said to Mary, “You be the big mommy and I’ll be the little baby.”
Why would God empty himself and become a baby?
Could it be that he wants what all babies want?
To be cuddled, to be chattered to, to be known just as an “I am”—an “I” with little accumulated “me?”
To be loved unconditionally?
To hear you say, “I love you forever. I like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be”?
He loves you like that. Perhaps he longs to be loved like that?
How could we love him like that—when he’s good for nothing, just Good—like a baby?
Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the last and least of these, you do to me.”
At Christmas time, I wonder if God is sneaking into baby cribs and mangers all over the place, just so moms would pick him up and hold him tightly to their breasts.
… Or sneaking into the destitute and the poor, just so you’d love him when he seems to be good for nothing—just Good.
… Or sneaking into the worst of sinners, in the hope that you would sacrifice yourself just to find him there, buried beneath fame or shame or both.
Maybe he constantly longs to save and be saved.
(Babies constantly need “saving,” and in this way, we—his “mother”—are saved.)
Maybe he longs to love and be loved, just as every member in your body longs to constantly give and receive the life that is in the blood.
So, what does I Am want for Christmas? (Not gold, frankincense and myrrh.)
He wants what all babies want.
He wants you—to be held tightly to your chest, to be chattered to in love, to hear you sing: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my beloved you will be.”
How could you wish God a Merry Christmas?
You could love him in the stinky mangers that constantly surround you.
You could even love him in the manger that is you.
Perhaps you are your own “last and least of these?”
Well, whatever you do to “the last and least of these,” you do to him.
So, speak it into the depths of your being, to the person beneath the persona, the “I” under all that “me.” Say, “I wish you a Merry Christmas.”