13 Dec

advent 2019-‘generous in time’m 4’ -swaddling clothes, Jesus’ gift: time, His generous time. And he spends it with, for us.

Swaddling clothes as an image is the baby Jesus’ first clothing; and…

Mary robed her child in “swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:7)

…and then …Joseph of Arimathea covered His Jesus in linen clothe (John 20)

…So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.

A woman robes Jesus at his birth; a man covers Him in linens for His death. In both moments the Lord of the universe and cosmos, the ruler of expansive heavens and earth, is tightly wrapped by human hands.

Jesus, of infinite time and space, is tightly wrapped, control and limited, in and by our humanity, by births and deaths. And He does this to allow us to enter His eternal time with Him, as brothers and sisters. Hebrews 2:11 defines us as His family,

“Both the one (Jesus) who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”

He choose us- with our linens and swaddling clothes- our life with joys and tears; us. We are for all eternity the holy family.

When Mary wraps Jesus in swaddling clothes/ bands, she sends recognizable signals to all that this baby is wanted, owned, embraced, touched and is being fully cared for. Mary and Joseph prepared this child’s birth having brought to the cave manger these bands in which to they tightly bundle the infant Jesus.

One writer has offered the following description of swaddling: “For years the Orientals of Bible lands have cared for an infant child much as it was done when Jesus was born. Instead of allowing the young baby the free use of its limbs, it is bound hand and foot by swaddling bands, and thus made into a helpless bundle like a mummy. At birth the child is washed and rubbed with salt, and then with its legs together, and its arms at its side, it is wound around tightly … Although based on customary practices whose antiquity cannot be determined precisely, nothing could signal more clearly the helpless state of a newborn human more than being wrapped tightly in any such way. Such a being has relinquished all power even to move, let alone to do, at that point, much of anything.”

Just as in birth, in death Jesus is wrapped in clean anointed, perfumed linens (Luke 23:56) But- Jesus rises and leaves these clothes behind. (John 20: 7) He rises and moves through the linen without touching them. He does fit leave the clothes of His birth because he needs time with us. They represent his choice: us.

Resurrected he is no longer limited by time and space; death or life. He leaves the linens of His death, untouched- clothe ‘lying in its place’ (John 20:7)

In generous time He came as a wrapped baby to become part of our family. He walked and lived with us; cried at death, rejoiced at weddings. He healed and forgave; taught and listened. And then He died so we, His, His brothers and sisters, can live in eternal time with Him.

Jesus’ gift: time, His generous time. And he spends it with, for us.

Advent is about Him, in generous time. Rejoice well this season. Adore well. Give well. He did-first in swaddling clothes; then linens. He gave well. He gives well.

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