It's easier to predict what the Nebraska winds will bring than it is to predict what direction any given conversation will take in the newsroom at the McCook Daily Gazette.
For example, the question "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" was posed several weeks back. I opined, without citing chapter and verse, that the chicken came first, basing my answer loosely on the creation story wherein God created plants and vegetation, each with seed to reproduce its kind. I posited that his creative nature didn't venture far from that when he created wild animals and livestock. It simply made sense to me that he would create the creature with the components for procreation in place and fully functional.
A co-worker had a different take, proposing that in order for the first chicken to know how to tend an egg, she had to have first-hand experience as an egg.
It was an interesting discussion, with questions bandied back and forth. Like I said, newsroom conversations are liable to take off in any direction. Usually, as probably happened in this case, conversations are cut short by relentless deadlines. We seldom have the opportunity to reach consensus. We'll call it a draw.
Most of us don't remember a lot about infancy. I would make that a blanket statement and say that none of us do, but my boss knows someone who asserts that he clearly remembers being born. Who am I to argue? My memories of my earliest days are spotty at best, with only the most traumatic experiences leaving a lasting impression. Even those are more like flashes, quick snapshots in time. And, as traumatic as birth is, as evidenced by the astonished expressions on the faces on my grandchildren when they emerged, I have no snapshots of that moment in my own life. (I confess, I kept my eyes tightly closed until my own babies let out their first lusty wails, daring to protest the loss of soft, filtered light, muted music and soothingly warm waters.) Still, I suppose the memories may well be ingrained in our psyches, we simply lacked the language at the time to give them the hooks on which so many of our later memories hang.
Whatever the case may be, Father God chose to give that same birthing experience to his "only begotten Son." Does that vague memory engender a particular tenderness toward infants? Does it make us better parents when our own children are first placed in our arms? Perhaps. Certainly, young Colton Burpo came away from his "heavenly" experience with the sense that Jesus seemed to be particularly enamored with children, according to the book "Heaven is for Real" written earlier this year by his father, Todd Burpo. In chapter 19 then 4-year-old Colton repeatedly tells his dad "Jesus really, really loves children!"
From an adult perspective, I suspect that Father God had more than his Son's experience in mind when he sent him to the virgin womb of a young, unmarried Jewish girl.
It's doubtful that anyone who has heard the nativity story recorded in Luke's gospel while holding an infant child, could shut out the staggering thought that at one point in time, the Savior of the world -- the King of heaven -- was just as helpless and just as vulnerable as the babe in arms is now.
It's definitely an experiential thing for us. And it underscores the truth that Jesus fully shared our humanity. Any time we are tempted to diminish his victory over sin and temptation, thinking in our hearts "Well, of course he could stand. He's the Son of God," (thereby excusing our own weakness rather than surrendering it) we need to remember how fully human he was, from conception forward. Fully human, he shared in all of our experiences, knew in his own body the power of our desires, tasted on his own tongue the bitter salt of heartbroken tears, even hungered and thirsted, all so that he could "sympathize with our weaknesses."
God allows us our own share of suffering, partially so that we can choose to sympathize with others who have suffered, are suffering or will suffer similar temptations, similar wounds, similar heartbreaks. I think suffering may contain the very seeds of compassion needed for any who would serve the Living God today. These experiences also work to our benefit, developing our reliance on God to provide comfort and healing and securing our faith that one day he will replace our ashes of grief with beauty.
It was the same for Jesus. And, just as his mother, Mary once did, he pondered all of the events of living in his heart, taking them with him to the cross and then to heaven where he sits, fully grown, at the right hand of God, waiting only for the trumpet call.
One of the pleasures offered during this time of year is the admittedly abbreviated version of Handel's Messiah, a challenging piece of music for anyone, regardless of talent and skill. In fact, "flash mobs" (seemingly impromptu choruses) have descended on malls across America and in Canada, performing the Hallelujah Chorus. Several of these performances have been posted on YouTube. My personal favorite is the one at a food court in a mall in Canada, featuring more than 100 vocalists posing as ordinary shoppers until a single soprano in a gray coat with a red scarf sends the first measure across the stunned shoppers. Since its release on YouTube Nov. 18, it has received 24,557,800 hits, several of them mine. It's important to note that Handel took the text for the Hallelujah Chorus directly out of the Book of Revelation, signifying the second advent of the Christ.
We would do well to remember, while the babe lies peacefully sleeping in the manger that this really is only a memory. There is more to come.
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." Revelation 11:15 (KJV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.