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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, December 9, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 9:6–7

For a child has been born for us,
   a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
   and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
   and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
   He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
   from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (NRSV)

Reflection
“For unto us a child is born.” This hope of Jesus, a child born promising peace, ruling with righteousness and justice—is this not the silent, hopeful, faithful promise we all carry  in our hearts with the promise of a new child born?

How sweet it is to look upon a child’s face and see new beginnings, a blank face. A new world, a fresh start, a new hope for righteousness and justice, to right the wrongs of our past, a promise to do differently this time.

Yet all this projection—how dare we put this all on Jesus? Like dressing a baby in a onesie of our alma mater: innocuous yet literally a legacy. Are we promising Jesus everything we’ve been given? Or projecting all our problems on him? As a baby? And yet that is what Isaiah is promising, crying out for, “the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

This revulsion of a child’s cry is just like the prophet cry; unsettling, ingrained in our DNA to force us to take notice, it demands something from us. Perhaps the desire to quell it. ’This vulnerability strikes our hearts, the relief of handing the squabbling child back to its mother.

But what if the squabbling baby is Jesus? Who do you hand him back to?.

Babies command our attention in a way that is unlike any other living being, precisely because it is unknowing and yet all-knowing. A blank slate. Born into a context: political, personal, cultural, individual. Born into a system, a family. God knew what God was doing coming as a baby. All the projection, the righteousness, the justice, the government, the chance of a do-over, the sleeplessness, the anxiety, the bursting of love, the willingness to die to save him. To save us. Go play with him. Now.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, Baby Jesus, Mother Mary, Stepfather Joseph, in this time of joyful expectation remind us of the love you have for us in the all-accepting dependence of a baby laying in our arms. We need you as much as you need us. We are eternally grateful for our bond, for our time together, playing. Amen.

Written by Jessica Wang, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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