Helpless as a Baby

This is the time of year for Christmas devotions. This year my thoughts have been on the impulse to serve the needy that we have at Christmas. We don’t have it at Easter. My thoughts have also been on the Christ child. The religious significance of the grown Christ, on the cross and in the garden, is obvious. But what did Christ do for us as a bare baby?

Lehi tells us that there are things that act and things that are acted upon. The man Christ–the God Christ–is the ultimate actor. What he does matters more than anything else in the universe. But the child Christ does not act. He represents the element in Christ’s make-up that is acted upon. Perhaps this is one meaning behind the cryptic verses in Mosiah that Christ is both the Father and the Son.

It is essential to Christ’s actions that he also be acted upon. Alma prophesies of Christ’s birth and immediately states that Christ will have to suffer “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” in order to atone for us. Matthew 25 tells us that Christ is able to save us precisely because he was helpless and naked and we cared for him.

So we celebrate Christ’s birth not just as a foreshadowing of what’s really important in his later life, but because the weak and helpless baby himself matters to us. God did not just condescend to die on a cross. He condescended to be weak and helpless and dependent on mortals like us. That’s what Christmas means. And that’s why we try to find those who are in the image of the Christ Child–the poor, the needy–and give them what aid we can.

Below are many Christmas devotions that I have enjoyed. I hope you can enjoy some of them too.

Christmas 2009

President Maxwell taught us that we really only have our will to give. He’s right, but we’ve started giving a gift each year to Christ during the Christmas season, some small devotion usually. It lights up the season for us.

LDS material’s Christmas page
The true meaning of Christmas

The Christmas Spirit video

Christ-the Real Gift of Christmas

First Presidency Christmas Devotional 2009

My Christmas Writing

The Slaughter of the Innocents and Falls, Gardens, Deaths
— two reflection on tragedy and sadness at Christmas time. Nine Moons did something similar last year that I really enjoyed but it seems to have vanished.

How we are Mary and We are Joseph and Mary and Holding the Messiah–three essays on being a father or a mother or a recipient of revelation. See also this brief meditation on the comparison between Mary and the tree of life.

Tithing Settlement 2008 and The Feast of Saint Tithing Settlement.

Christmas Devotional 2008

Christmas and the Sacrament — there is only one Christmas — Perhaps the best thing I’ve every written, and the only one that ever led anyone to denounce my writing.

Mr. Krueger’s Christmas (Eve)

Lonely mission Christmases

The 6th Day of Christmas

Other Christmas Favorites

All six verses of Silent Night

Believing in Santa Claus and The Christmas Dress and Worshipping on Christmas Eve— (Russell Arben Fox)

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

Christmas Bells, by Longfellow

Behold the Condescension of God! and O Tannenbaum (the Fowles Brothers)

Two Christmas Poems (KHH)

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times — some of the comments especially are painful and eye-opening

My Testimony, Christmas Morning

Christmas music recommendations–here, here, here, and here. We have also got a lot of mileage from We created a wonderful Christmas music station on it. Our seeds were the Hereford Cathedral Choir (Holiday); For Unto Us a Child is Born, by the Cambridge Singers (Holiday); and The Hallelujah Chorus, by the Canadian Brass (Holiday). KHH’s Advent music posts at BCC are quite nice, I recommend them.

Comment at the Junior Ganymede.