Baking and decorating cookies is a Christmas tradition that I have done with my children, my grandson, my great nieces here for Thanksgiving, and with other children throughout the years. Connecting with my own “inner child” while making cookies with the children brings a lot of delight to me. It’s wonderful that God created us with the ability to be child-like at times. It’s a way that we can “step into” exemplifying that part of Christ. Amazingly, God chose to send His son into the world as an infant to live and experience the life of being a child before growing into adulthood. For me, children are some of the best teachers when it comes to becoming more like Christ in our journey of Christian Spiritual Formation.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned as an adult came from a 5 year old boy. He was a new piano student of mine. I had worked with his small group class for 4 months getting ready for their first recital. Intentionally, I did not use the word “nervous” with my young students when talking about performance. Using words like, “silly,” “excited”, “happy,” I asked each of the students how they were feeling before they went to the piano to perform their pieces for their parents and classmates. Michael, the 5 year old boy, said, “I was not excited or silly, or happy. I was just waiting.” As he spoke with a “matter of fact assurance”, gentle tears fell on my face as I knew God had spoken to me through this precious little boy. At the time, Jim and I were in a transitional stage praying about a big move. Michael had been sitting still, patiently waiting for his “next move” to the piano as he listened to the music of the previous student. The Holy Spirit reminded me that God was in charge of our situation and that we needed to trust Him and continue to be confident in the “waiting place” where we found ourselves…we weren’t “silly, excited, or happy, we were just waiting.”
To be child-like is not always about 2 year old tantrums, or being selfish. It is about having a simple trust of the one who is “in charge.” For Jesus, to become an infant to enter this world, He had to trust His Father about this journey of entering the human race as fully God and fully human. I have to trust God in His daily work in me in regards to Spiritual Formation and transformation.
I can imagine that as Jesus grew up as a child, He definitely lived as all children for thousands of years in that He “lived in the moment.” This fascinates me about children and inspires me too. They draw us in to engage with them if we will just be aware of their invitation to be present to them.
Children can invite us to live in the moment with whatever is happening at that time. They make us realize that it’s true what has been said, “Life is what happens while we are making plans.” Granted there are times when we can’t always enter into their timetable. It seems that Christ gives them as a gift to us to help us to pay attention to the invitations to be in the moment with them. We have to keep returning to them constantly in the same way we must keep returning to Christ when we actually pay attention to His invitation to notice Him in the moment and really “BE” there with Him.
During the Advent Season, as I once again dwell on the beautiful story of how Jesus came to the earth by being born of a virgin, I really want to listen, be aware, and wait patiently as I intentionally try to be present to the child-like presence of Christ. The Holy Spirit reminds me in my own “child-likeness” to trust God fully, to live in the moment in His presence and to remember, that Jesus valued children so much that He said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-14).
After all, Jesus entered the world as a child to begin the sacrificial work that God, the Father, had given Him to complete in His adulthood. We can enter into our child-likeness, especially during this Advent season, as we trust God, as we gleefully anticipate His birthday celebration and as we participate in each waking moment of His presence to us. We are also on a journey for Christ to complete His transformational work in us from childhood through adulthood.
EMMANUEL: GOD IS WITH US, in our “child-likeness” places of soul and that means even when we bake Christmas cookies with others or just Jesus and me!