I was struck anew by the way that when we first meet Jesus in the Christmas story, he is completely vulnerable. Reliant wholly on his parents, and then as he grows, belonging not only to his parents and family but also to his community. Can anything good come from Nazareth?
At his birth, he is receiving- nurture, gifts, love. He is allowing people to care for him.
The great adage goes that it is more blessed to give than to receive; for me, one should add- actually it is extremely uncomfortable to receive. I find giving much more comfortable- if I am honest, at times receiving seems to be a sign of weakness. Furthermore, when one is the recipient of love, care, or gifts, one becomes vulnerable to the giver. You have to trust that the giver will use their power wisely.
Jesus showed his great love for us by giving all he was- part of that was allowing himself to receive. He made himself vulnerable first to Mary and Joseph, and then as he grew to many other people. Some of those givers did not use their power wisely. And yet, we see with Peter for example, Jesus continued to invest in and receive from Peter even after being let down.
In the Christmas story, we see God's wholehearted commitment to mankind, becoming "God with us"; vulnerable in a love that receives as well as gives.
I am challenged to keep on receiving as well as giving. In our culture of individualism, it is easy to withdraw and be self reliant when people let you down. Yet we are called to be as vulnerable as a baby to each other, to allow others to care for us, just like Jesus,
"...Who being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness,
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself..."