Jesus, Born to Lose

Adoation of the Magi
Adoation of the Magi

Luke missed the bus this morning.  And I got mad.  I drive him in almost every day, for crying out loud.  I only ask that he catch the bus on “late start” Wednesdays.  And, it’s Christmas season, which means my “to do” list is sooooo long - much, much longer – and of course, more important than the usual “to do” list.

I wish I could say that I graciously pulled on my sweats, grabbed my keys, and with a sweet, motherly, “it’s ok honey,” ushered my freshman son into the car and on to school.  But, I didn’t.  I pitched a little well-deserved fit, muttering that I knew he should have gone out there sooner, and why didn’t he wear a hat – it’s winter in Illinois for Pete’s sake.

I missed my chance.  Yes.  I missed a good chance to give it up today – to give some of my life as a gift to him.  I let that old, ugly nature rule the moment and steal the joy of being who Jesus calls me to be at this time in this place.  And isn’t that all we are ultimately called to do?

Our church (Christ Church Lake Forest) offers a beautiful Advent service each year called “Lessons and Carols.”  Music, art and scripture are woven seamlessly together to help us enter into the truth of the Christmas season.  I experienced this service twice this year, and am still captivated by one piece of art in particular.  Adoration of the Magi, by Jacopo Bassano.  In this beautiful painting, the three magi have finally found the baby Jesus.  Each king has brought a precious gift to offer the new King.  But the wise man in the center of the painting is the one who has captured my attention and refuses to leave my imagination.  This king, in his expensive, fur trimmed robes, is on his hands and knees before the baby, just about as close as he can get, with his eyes trained on that holy face.  It appears that his precious gift of gold is on the ground beside him – but more importantly, so is his crown.  He has laid it down.  How can he not.

I am convicted by this painting.  Why is it so easy for me to slip into selfishness?  Why do I find it so difficult to give up my little “crown?”  Jesus left his crown in the heavenly realm, coming to this broken world as a gift wrapped in sweet baby flesh.  He was born to lose his earthly life to give me the ultimate gift of eternal life.  Every moment he spent on this earth he was giving himself away.  Every moment of my life, he continues to give himself to me.  This is Christmas.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! 

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV 1984)

Mighty Father,

You alone are worthy of praise and honor.  Forgive my self-focus.  Thank you for the gift of your only Son, Jesus, who came to this earth as the ultimate gift of love and sacrifice.  Fill me with your Spirit, enabling me to give up my life each moment of each day in worship and awe before You.

Amen

by Beth