One of my practices this Advent season is reading daily reflections from Richard Rohr’s book, Preparing for Christmas. Rohr is a Catholic priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. He is a provocative and creative thinker, whose writings have challenged and encouraged me.
In the selection for today, Rohr says, in part:
The celebration of Christmas is not a sentimental waiting for a baby to be born . . . . We do the Gospel no favor when we make Jesus, the Eternal Christ, into a perpetual baby, a baby able to ask little or no adult response from us . . . . We might cuddle or coo with a baby, but any spirituality that makes too much of the baby Jesus is perhaps not yet ready for prime-time life. God clearly wants friends, partners and images, if we are to believe the biblical texts. God, it seems, wants adult religion and a mature, free response from us. God loves us as adult partners, with mutual give and take, and you eventually become the God that you love. Take that as an absolute.
I like the phrase “ready for prime-time life.” Life as God means it to be is an adventurous, mature, and collaborative partnership between us and God-made-known-in-Jesus. We are called to grow into a friendship, a shared life, with a grown-up Jesus, not merely or mainly to marvel at baby Jesus in the manger. That sort of friendship is one of the gifts and challenges of Christmas.