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God newborn

Christmas nativity scene in Theresa Center Chapel in St. Louis.

By Sister Lynne Schmidt, Provincial Councilor

For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9)

The Incarnation, the embodiment of God infusing all creation with God’s own life, is a mystery beyond all words. The Word of God becomes flesh, embraces matter, forever changing the created world. So, we sing our response in poetry. We use titles and phrases of hope and exaltation, as Isaiah does, to express our wonder before this great gift of Divine Love. No words are adequate, but we offer the best we have. We stand before the Christ Child in awe.

Another response to this Mystery is expressed by a child before the Christmas crib.

“’GOD’S MY SIZE!’ The 3-year-old girl jumped up and ran to tell her mother. ‘Mom, God’s my size!’ She got the idea while lying on her stomach looking at the crèche beneath the Christmas tree. Eye-level with a baby is a good position from which to do theology.

At Christmas God is newborn, less like Michelangelo’s muscular man and more like an infant in wet diapers sucking milk from its mother’s breast. God is less like an equation in theoretical physics and more like a hungry 3-year-old in a refugee camp. At Christmas God is less like a come-of-age, post-modern adult and more like the toddler laughing at being able to walk.

‘Adults look at the baby and say, ‘This can’t be God! This is a bawling baby!’ The protests are diverse. ‘This can’t be God! This baby is Jewish. This baby is poor. This baby is illegitimate. This baby is male. This baby is traditional. This baby is a refugee. This baby is, well, a baby.’

Children look at the baby and say, ‘God’s our size!’”

(Elizabeth Bettenhaussen, published in Christianity and Crisis.)

Fiat – let it be done to me according to your word. With these words Mary accepted God’s invitation to her. A simple response made after presenting her questions and objections. Fiat. The details were not worked out. The journey was uncharted. Her fiat was a baby who needed constant care, a toddler who needed to be taught to speak and to walk, and a child she and Joseph raised in their Jewish faith. They taught him fiat from their own life experience.

Remember your own fiat moments – the times you heard God’s call and said, “yes,” with no idea where the road would lead or the challenges you would face. In what ways is God calling you this Christmas? In whom are you being called to see God made flesh? God is with us now.

Many sisters in the Central Pacific Province have been, and are being, challenged to say ‘yes’ to letting go of the place they have called home. This is the place where they prepared to become sisters, where many lived and worked, where they gathered for big events and celebrations, and where they expected to go when they needed health care as they aged. At this time, God calls them to a new place with new people and new routines. They say ‘yes.’ This is difficult and life-giving. Christ is being born at this time and in these places.

The sisters thank you for your prayer and other forms of support through the years and especially now. May your Christmas be filled with unexpected blessings.

This Christmas, take some time to lie on the floor (metaphorically speaking) in front of the crib and cry out, “God’s my size.”


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