My new daughter cries in the middle of the night; she is hungry and needs the nourishment only I, her mother can give. My presence always comes to her before the milk as I whisper “Mama is here, Mama’s here”. She screams in the car seat the entire time we go from point A to point B; she feels alone and to her it seems as if we are going nowhere. She knows not my presence in the driver’s seat. If only she would hush her wails she would hear me saying, “Mama’s here. I am here.”
My preschooler does not know how proudly I peer out of the kitchen window as I cook, watching him riding his bike around and around the driveway. I see that his curve was too sharp and I know he will fall, so I turn to run before he knows how much I am needed. He falls hard and cries as if no one will save him. I run out the door and scoop him up in my arms, wipe his tears and instinctively soothe him with the words that come from somewhere so deep within, “I am here, Mama’s here.”
My nine-year old is proud to run the half-mile race. I see him searching for my face in the crowd. His eyes find mine and I mouth those words again, “I am here.” He grins and runs with the confidence one has when they know they are not alone and that their race matters.
These thoughts come to me in the flicker of white lights as at it is nearly Christmas again. Coming from Scandinavian descent, my little family and I celebrate Swedish-style. I dress as Santa Lucia with a candlelit crown adorning my head, bringing sweet saffron rolls with egg coffee. The boys set their shoes outside Christmas Eve in hopes the nordic troll will fill them with goodies; and a bowl of rice pudding is set on the bench for the Christmas goat to devour. Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce for dinner and delicate rosettes for dessert are ready for us after the fun of gift-giving is over.
My husband and I, with our three children bring forth the splendor of our ancestral nation on that day. We wave the flag out of this melting pot and recall where our roots began, the land where the name of Christ, the felt presence of God first took root in our family line. It’s a leaning back of sort to the far end of the present globalization we live in now.
We tend to want to move to the front end of things; those things that glitter and speak of newness. But Christmas calls us back from it all. We willingly, on that 25th day of December, go back to the furthest end from where we find ourselves now– that simple and profound day thousands of years ago when a boy was born to a teenage mother and a God proved he would not leave us to ourselves or to the bonds of the oppressor. The harried world of the day perceived him as unnecessary and irrelevant; now we know him to be the most necessary and relevant One that has ever walked this earth.
He is the coming-down God who did hear and still hears us all crying and hungry. He could no more stay away from his own than I can from my babies and you from yours. He could no more disconnect his presence from the provision than any mother could.
My oldest son has asked me what the face of God looks like. I told him the first glimpse of his features came on Christmas, for Jesus said that anyone who has seen him, how he lived, how he treated people and what he taught, has seen the face of God (Jn. 14:9). The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6), for in Jesus all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Col. 2:9).
We cry for help to sustain our human needs, not ever sensing the Spirit of God’s brooding presence.
We wail and dissolve into heaviness and fear when the road is too long and the bumps too hard. If we would just be still we would hear, “God is here, I am here.”
We finally can ride free and clear when suddenly the potholes knock the wind out of us; we never saw it coming. And the all-seeing God whispers again, “I am here, God is here.”
We marry our sweethearts, bear or adopt our children, write that book, make that speech, get on that plane, chose a new path, start that business, persevere through the drought of unemployment and we look around to find the Face that proves there is validity in what we have done; it was not gold-covered straw but gold indeed.
All of this is Christmas to me, best recalled in the needs of my children and the God-like love of their mother who wants nothing more than to be with them. Just another woman who wants to see her own rest in her small presence so they someday might learn to rest in God’s great one.
Shhh…He has whispered, oh He has roared through the lips of Christ throughout all the nations and all time, “God’s here, the great I AM is here. Jesus, Immanuel, . . . God with you (Is. 7:4)!”