Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of Advent themes. The third week’s theme of Peace kept bringing me images of swaddled babies.
This time of year the term “swaddled” is found in books and songs about the baby Jesus in a manger. These days many mothers and fathers seek to perfect the art of swaddling…making the perfect “baby burrito” is a grand accomplishment. I recall trying to get my first baby to settle into a sleep. There was striving on both our parts even at that young age. He was obviously so sleepy, yet he flailed his arms about and wiggled as if he were trying to keep himself awake. Eventually we managed to wrap him in such a way that he calmed and gave into the rest he needed. A precious little baby sound asleep is a picture of great peace. The striving has ceased, discord faded away, and a sweet little sigh is uttered as eyes calmly close. The swaddling matters. The carefully placed swaddle surrounds the little one keeping them safe, secure and still. It allows the baby to relax and feel the embrace of a parent without fighting against containment. How often do I strive against my heavenly Father, Who only wishes to surround me, comfort me, or protect me. Oh to be wrapped in His arms, to know His peace and give in to the rest He offers.
I read an article recently that spoke to what the term “swaddling” meant to the shepherds when the angels told them, “You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” The shepherds in the field that night were “Levitical Shepherds”. They were keeping watch over a flock of sheep that produced the sacrificial lambs used in the temple on the Sabbath. According to laws of that time, these lambs were to be “spotless and without blemish”. These sheep were tended to differently than other livestock. When a ewe was to give birth, she would be taken to a special cave, kept as clean as possible. Following the birth, the lamb would be swaddled in strips of cloth to ensure it was kept spotless, protected and without blemish.
When the angels made their declaration, these unique shepherds knew exactly what to look for and where to look. When they found the babe, He may have been lying in a feeding trough for animals, but He was swaddled with care just as their lambs would have been. I wonder if they could even fathom what they saw and heard that night? The gift of reconciliation between our sinful nature and our holy God was not tied with a bow, but He was wrapped with great care.
The birth of Jesus heralded the hope for forgiveness of our sins. This baby would mature, live, lead, love, suffer, die and rise again, making the need for sacrificial lambs obsolete forever more. In Christ alone we find forgiveness for our sins, allowing us a relationship with a holy God, love, grace and life everlasting. In this, we find PEACE. Striving can cease, we can give in to the rest offered in the arms of our heavenly Father. Today, as the final prepping for guests and gatherings takes place, let us be mindful of God’s PEACE. No matter what is going on, in the midst of it all, let us be swaddled in His arms like the BEST baby burrito of all time.
“for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find the a baby wrapped in cloths; and lying in a manger” Luke 2:11-12