The producers of our church’s annual Christmas pageant accompanied one song several years ago with a video I have never forgotten.
It was simple, just four minutes or so showing a tiny infant wrapped in white cloth in a cow’s feeding trough. And for the length of the video, the baby on the straw was crying—arms flailing, feet kicking, face scrunched in discomfort.
I had a small part in the pageant and was there for the final week of rehearsals. One night, as the soloist came to the end of the song, the video’s soundtrack was slowly elevated so we could hear in the background the infant’s insistent cries.
Later, they decided not to let the audience hear the baby, choosing instead only to show him while the soloist sang. That’s not the choice I would have made.
To be sure, the picture alone was poignant—here’s the Lord of the universe who has submitted himself to the uncomfortable, uncontrolled body of a newborn, whimpering and wailing in the humblest of circumstances. But it was the sound of those cries that brought the message home to me. This event—no romantic, Christmas card moment—was characterized by irritation, injustice, and tears. And that squirming, squalling baby overwhelmed me with its clue to all God sacrificed just to provide my salvation.
All the world loves a baby, so my Christmas advice should be easy to follow. Find an infant this Christmas. Admire it from a distance if you must, but try to hold it in your arms. Listen to it squeak and feel it squirm and then ponder the fact that this is how God came to save us.
The Christmas story offers many facts to compete as our favorite. The obedience of Mary and Joseph is remarkable. The worship of the shepherds is beautiful. The gifts of the wise men are noteworthy.
But every year at our Christmas pageant I look for the baby, because in that tiny body I see the unmatched humility and love Jesus demonstrated just to meet my need.