What child is this: Christmas Message 2004 (Dec. 23, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

What child is this: Christmas Message 2004

Dec. 23, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
mwacht@flumc.org     Orlando  {0213}

An e-Review Commentary
By R. Randy Day**

"What child is this...?" the carol asks. "What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping? "What child is this...?"
The question is the most important one for Christians in the 12th month of the year.
Christmas is totally, and solely, about the birth of a child, a real flesh and blood baby, nestled and nursed by a mother. In Jesus the infant, crying and hungry, God makes complete identification with people.

Jürgen Moltmann writes in his new book, "In the End-The Beginning," that in Christmas we celebrate our "encounter with the almighty God in the weak and helpless Jesus," the child in a manger.

"Why lies he in such mean estate…?" the carol asks. The birth is the beginning of an epic of love and redemption.

"What child is this…?" The child that angels greet. The child to whom the wise bring gifts. The child who is, and becomes, the living Word of the Gospel.

Moltmann goes on to show that the Christmas focus on "child" is borne out in Jesus' ministry: "Whoever receives a child receives me...," "Unless you become like children...," "Let the children come to me for theirs is the kingdom of God."

Jesus' treatment of children was revolutionary, Moltmann reminds us. Children were property, on the same level as slaves in the world into which Jesus was born. No wonder the disciples objected when people brought children for Jesus' blessing.

"Let them come," Jesus said. He saw children as his "fellow citizens" in the kingdom . He turned the scale of values upside down, as the angels did when going first with their song of peace to shepherds, people who were nobodies.

"Jesus made children his representatives in society," Moltmann writes.

This truth is gladly received by those of us engaged in Christian mission. Ministries to children and youth are at the top of the priorities of the General Board of Global Ministries.

"What child is this...?" The 5-year-old spending Christmas in a family shelter in Chicago; the new-born AIDS infant in Mozambique; the 9-year-old girl on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, struggling to feed her younger brother and sister; the well-cared for children in Shaker Heights and Barcelona and Auckland; the little boy visiting a sick grandfather in a hospice in Mongolia; the child with the dancing eyes in Brownsville.
What child is this? This, this is Jesus Christ! These, these...all of them.

In the sight of the almighty God, all the children are the sons and daughters of Mary.


This article relates to Missions.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
** Day is general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries.

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