2013 Advent Theme: all My Heart
Second Sunday of Advent December 8, 2013: all My Trusting Heart
Children are models of trust. They instinctively trust their elders to care for their needs and to protect them. Children are naturally inclined to revere their care givers in response to the sustenance, shelter, and succor they receive. The trust given by a child is simple, direct, and complete. That may be why Jesus illustrated the kind of trust he sought from his followers by directing our attention to the nature of a child’s trust. When the disciples pestered Jesus about who would be most important in the Kingdom of God he gave them a living example: “Jesus called a little child to his side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all. ‘Believe me,’ he said, ‘unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.’” Matthew 18:2-4 J.B. Phillips) Honest, humble childlike trust is the essential heart condition for every authentic follower of Jesus.
The traditional theme for the second Sunday of Advent is peace. The kind of trust practiced by children is prerequisite for genuine peace to pervade our lives. Trust with the confidence a child has that care givers are indeed reliably able to meet the child’s needs is the foundation of peace. Jesus assured his followers that he could provide them life at its most meaningful state in each present and for all eternity. His presence as Father, Son, and Spirit was his guarantee. So he told his disciples: “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT) A trusting, childlike heart can remain in that peaceful state through faith because of the presence of Jesus.
A modern-day image of the trust that results in life characterized by the peace only God can give can be found in one of my favorite songs of Christmas. I am a fan of James Taylor at any time, but his James Taylor at Christmas album is simply superb. Along with secular songs of the season, his interpretations of some vibrant songs of Christian faith on this album are especially moving. The simple carol, “Some Children see Him,” always stops me in my tracks when it is playing. You can hear James Taylor’s beautifully expressive performance of the song and watch an interesting interpretive video at the following YouTube link:
I strongly encourage you to play the video. I am abbreviating the written portion of the devotional to shorten the reading time so that you can spend the time listening carefully to the words of the carol. Children worldwide of all races trust Jesus to be like them and to care for them. The trusting, peaceful identification of children with the Christ child is paramount in the song. The implications for any follower of Jesus are stated marvelously in the closing verses:
The children in each different place Will see the baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace, And filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King. ‘Tis love that’s born tonight!
(“Some Children See Him,” James Taylor at Christmas, 2006)
The trusting response to the gift of Jesus is simple: “O lay aside each earthly thing and with thy heart as offering, come worship now the infant King.” All my trusting heart is the proper offering I am to bring to the Christ child, the baby Jesus, the Savior.
Do you trust Jesus with the simple acceptance and hope of a child? Do you sense the peace a child senses when held in the arms of a loving care giver? Those are the priceless gifts to be exchanged on the second Sunday of Advent and throughout a life of faith. Christmas reminds us that faith and faithfulness are best understood in the birth, growth, and trust of a child. Paul’s words offer a fitting benediction for living in such childlike trust and peace by God’s grace: “I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NCV) Amen, and Advent blessings.
- J. Edward Culpepper
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