Twenty new little stars: Christmas and the vulnerability of children

Do there seem to be 20 new little stars twinkling in the sky during this dark Christmas season? You have to look carefully, because this is a time of national grief, when seeing any light at all in the darkness can seem difficult, perhaps even impossible.

A woman kneels in front of a fence with the names of the 20 children killed a week ago at a memorial at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 21, 2012. (EPA)

Jesus came into the world as a vulnerable little child. This very vulnerability of Jesus as a baby teaches us something fundamental about the depth of meaning contained in the idea of “God-with-us” as taught through the Christian Gospels.

The risks [of the vulnerability of children] are so awful. How can we bear it as those who love children and want to protect them? Every day, there are risks.

So here is the Christmas miracle. This is exactly who God is, the one who willingly shares those terrible risks, the one who chooses the power of vulnerability over the power of abusive control. It is the baby Jesus in his manger, God-with-us, versus the sham of the grasping, controlling power of Rome and its puppet, King Herod.

God’s vulnerable power reveals what we need to know when tragedy strikes: you are not alone.

“Don’t be afraid,” the angels say. (Luke 2:10)

Don’t be afraid. You are not alone. Your children are not alone.

Read the full post at On Faith here.

About Susan Thistlethwaite

I am President Emerita and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary; I write for the public here and in local papers. I am interested in what I call "public theology," or how deeper meaning is made and contested in the public square.
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