By Jan Hill of New Brighton, MN, USA
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. —Luke 1:76–79 NRSV
Jesus is called “Messiah,” meaning the expected leader, deliverer, and anointed one. But that’s a little complicated for a three-year-old. My granddaughter, Christa, has a book called The Boy Who Gave His Lunch Away. It is about a little boy who went to hear Jesus teach and then shared his meager lunch with the multitude of people who were there. Christa has had the book read to her so many times she knows it by heart. One part talks about God’s Messiah, and I’m sure she has no idea what that means, but this is how she tells it:
One warm, June day a neighbor stopped to buy a loaf of bread.
“I’m on my way to see the King. He’s right nearby,” he said.
“A king?” asked Joel. “Right nearby? You must be fooling me!”
The stranger shook his head. “I’m not! Why, people say that he
is God’s smile—here at last! Why don’t you come and see?”
To Christa, “God’s Messiah” translates as “God’s smile,” and then, I’m sure it makes perfect sense to her. And, in many ways, it makes sense to me, too.
Prayer for Peace
As I imagine your smile, God, I see love in your eyes—just as we see love in Jesus. I see laugh lines radiating from that love, just as we radiate with love as we listen to children.
Spiritual Practice: Listening to Children
Sit in your quiet place and center your heart and mind in God’s presence. Spend several minutes asking God to bring into your awareness the names and images of children in your life. You may see their faces or hear their voices as you receive these impressions. Listen deeply to the unique gifts and needs of the children who come to mind. Offer a prayer of blessing for each child and the needs you sense. If you feel led, you also may want to write a note or card and give a message of affirmation and love to each child.
Today, God, it won’t matter what name I choose for Jesus. Thinking of his love will make me smile.