Toddler Jesus and Other Missing Pieces: An Advent Homily


Theology / Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

I know motherhood. It begs me to wake at dawn and shoves me toward sleep at bedtime but keeps me up some nights, too.

It negotiates the vegetables onto melamine plates and scares the children out of the street.

My motherhood shows when I count to three, and you know I mean it.  I’m not going to tell you again.

I’m the one who hid the ice cream when I noticed Atticus was getting strong enough to open the freezer by himself, the one who relocated the plastic cups to the bottom shelf the day he decided to start getting ice on his own.

Independent mister.
Independent mister.

I’m a master detangler, the Skinned Knee Whisperer. I can find the second shoe, and I memorized the baby Tylenol dosages years ago. I know what Disney FastPlay really means and know that selecting it is a rookie mistake.

I know motherhood well enough not to talk smack about other good-enough mothers.

Because motherhood and I are so very tight these days, I can say with confidence that our Christmas Carols rival political conspiracy theories. Seriously. That “stable” is basically the Area 51 of the Gospels.

As a mother of human babies, I wager to say that writers have whitewashed Jesus’s infancy.  Just say no to “Silent Night.” Sleep in heavenly—nope! There’s no Similac in Bethlehem. I don’t recall a single passage where Mary is dousing her tired things in cocoa butter while Joseph is wearing out his sandal leather trying to get Christ to sleep for the fifth time in two hours.

It’s just not there. I have so looked.

You know the songs I’m talking about and how close they are to recreating the soap opera babies that pop out in delivery scenes, all bathed and four-years-old. You’ve seen the Little People plastic nativity smile.

False advertising.
False advertising.

“Away in a Manger” prompts us to sing, “But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes,” but unless Mary roofied him with ancient Benadryl, I’ll say that’s about as accurate as Ricky Bobby’s creative account:

Dear Lord baby Jesus, lyin’ there in your ghost manger, just lookin’ at your Baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin’ ’bout shapes and colors.

It tickles me to think of the wise men coming a couple years later when the infant we see in nativity scenes is just getting to his two-year-old prime. Can you imagine? I mean, I just know how my kids pull out all the stops when we have company over. Son of God or not, Jesus threw a fit or two for Goldfish crackers.

You know he did.

Because we turned on the wrong Shrek.
Because we turned on the wrong Shrek.
Because the last waffle fry was broken. (She did it.)
Because the last waffle fry was broken. (She did it.)
Because I was singing.
Because I was singing.
Because I was trying to make her a construction paper hat like she asked me to in the wrong color. (She asked for yellow, and you can plainly see this isn't a yellow piece of paper. I never listen.)
Because I was trying to make her a construction paper hat like she asked me to in the wrong color. (She asked for yellow, and you can plainly see this isn’t a yellow piece of paper. I never listen.)
Part of her costume was still on for Trick-or-Treating. (Note: This was a makeshift backup costume after she vehemently rejected the Sofia the First dress I'd purchased from Target, complete with shoes and amulet.)
Part of her costume was still on for Trick-or-Treating. (Note: This was a makeshift backup costume after she vehemently rejected the Sofia the First dress I’d purchased from Target, complete with shoes and amulet.)
Ennui.

So, when candlelight services get all “radiant beams from thy holy face,” that smacks of grandparent-speak and a land of sugared oranges and all-you-can-eat Blue Bell Ice Cream.

No grown man flips a table in a temple without a couple practice rounds in his early years.

Which means you know Mary had her sweet-Mother-of-God moments, too, or what I like to call leaving the house or 4:30.

Also, Tuesdays. 

We’re human. We fray. This is our proof of life. 

It’s well known from my social media posts that I am least Christian on the way to church in the morning. When our children arrive, one in an iffy John Green t-shirt, another in rain boots, and the hanger-on with an insisted-upon tie worn backwards to simulate a tiny cape, and all three covered in donut dust, we still get high fives from the Guest Services team, and these saints just smile, helping us count heads to make sure everyone made it in from the parking lot. We’re seldom late, but they all run like the McAllisters in an airport trying to board a French plane.

Mother Mary, likely showered and on her way to Target.
Mother Mary, likely showered and on her way to Target.

Mother Mary had Tuesdays and 4:30’s, I bet. 

See, aside from a raging case of love for one another, toddlers and mothers have one more thing in common: We melt down.

It’s the I give up, but I won’t, so I’ll just stand here and cry in the kitchen until you stop acting like a lunatic and I stop feeling like a failure.

It’s the I’ve had enough, but I’m staying anyway because we’ll both be worse off without each other than with, and we’re the best thing each other’s got.

It’s the I just can’t even, which translates, I’m sure, in every language and spans every century that’s ever been.

It’s the worn edges, the lines that finish out our faces, those scars that mark where love has been.

And, hand to the heavens, it’s this very fray, the wear and the unravel, that’s proof we’re all doing it right. 

 

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3 Replies to “Toddler Jesus and Other Missing Pieces: An Advent Homily”

  1. Cute, although theology in the Bible is clear that as the Son of God, Jesus was always part of the Trjnity , one and the same with God, with all His wisdom and perfection. Human, yes. Bratty kid, no. Without sin, but with human need for food and warmth. I have to say, though, I never believed He didn’t cry as a newborn (like, I refused to sing that line in Away in a Manger) until I had two of my own. In the beginning day or two they just wake up and breathe a bit.

  2. Love the point you are making here, friend! I have often said that Jesus was both Perfect God and Perfect Human… he experienced everything we have so he experienced dirty diapers that bothered him and he communicated it just like any human who can not talk, he cried, he wailed…I mean seriously they lived in the desert, rode donkeys and it was hot…Don’t tell me baby Jesus wasn’t ever uncomfortable and didn’t communicate that to his mother. We can relate with Mary because she had this perfect baby that probably totally had moments that drove her to the edge…especially after she had James…I mean I have two boys and you can’t tell me those boys didn’t make her wanna run away some days. 🙂 Anyhooo… I love this. You are so very talented.:)

    Brianna
    unveiledandrevealed.com

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