"O Christ Thyself a Child within an earthly home, with heart still undefiled Thou did to manhood come, our children bless in every place that they may all behold Thy face, and knowing Thee may grow in grace.
O Spirit who does bind our hearts in unity, who teaches us to find the love from self set free, in all our hearts such love increase that every home by this release may be the dwelling place of peace."
The first line of this hymn has captured my imagination: "O Christ Thyself a Child within an earthly home, with heart still undefiled Thou did to manhood come."
With all respect to Mary and Joseph, earthly homes are messy places to grow up. Because they're full of humans, families are learning and growing in responsibility, patience, maturity, and grace -- all together under the same roof. And with imperfect people in charge, the struggles show up in a myriad of ways: abuse, neglect, poverty, addiction, divorce, silent treatment, temper tantrums (both children or adults), depression, anxiety, and the list goes on. Even the most loving homes have sibling rivalries, grief over losses, and difficult transitions that tempt the best of us to focus only on ourselves.
But Jesus, a baby, then a toddler, developed through all the stages of childhood with a heart that never once, not even one time, was defiled by the selfishness that so often consumes our early years! I wonder what it was like to watch Him grow, to see Him cry for milk, utterly dependent as an infant. Or as a toddler, to watch His curiosity with a friend's toy express itself in patience and gentleness. Can you imagine Him as a young scholar, not participating in debates about who was the best in class but, instead, considering others as better than Himself?
Yet, we know that He learned and grew along with all human children in order to redeem the full spectrum of our human experience. So, I challenge you, in the context of your current family relationships, to identify a place where your heart is tempted and perhaps has even succumbed to selfishness. Then imagine Jesus in your same situation. What does love, peace, patience, goodness, sacrifice, gentleness, and self-control look like in your shoes? In other words, and at the risk of being cliché, "What would Jesus do?"
While Scripture is the only infallible source of knowing God, it is good for us to use all our faculties, including our imaginations, in relationship to our Creator. So, take time to look at Jesus' words and actions in Scripture and imagine if He were interacting with the others in your context. Remember His words of compassion, the way He showed love and concern, His willingness to be there for others. Ask God to help you model the Savior's life in your own life, especially in forgiveness -- as God has forgiven you in His Son. It's a way of sharing God's character with others, following the Savior's lead, in life's big and little things. And all of us can aspire to grow in grace and peace by seeing even a small glimpse of the goodness in Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for taking on human form in order to relate to all of our trials and temptations. Thank You for living with an undefiled heart that continues to point the way for us when we get derailed or self-absorbed. Teach us Your way that we may truly grow in grace and peace. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by AmyRuth Bartlett. It is based on the hymn, "Our Father, by Whose Name," which is found on page 863 in the Lutheran Service Book.
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"