This week let us explore the image of God as Child.  Granted, this can be contemplated both through the image of a son or daughter, each offering different insight, but for the sake of explanation and preliminary exploration, let us dicuss the image of a child in general. 
 
Just as we’ve done before, imagine in your mind the roles played out between a parent and child.  When you think of child, what comes to mind?  Dependant?  Rebelious?  Innocent?  Does the image change as they grow from infant to toddler to adolescent?  For those that have children, this is easy to imagine.  For those that don’t, imagine what your relationship might be if you had a child.  Have you ever worked with youth?  The relationship between a teacher and young student can be similar to parent and child. 
 
As Christianity is an incarnational faith, let us explore the Christmas story – the most vivid image of God as vulnerable child to a loving mother.  On the one hand we have the image of God as all powerful.  But in the nativity scene, we have a God in the most vulnerable and helpless form.  What can we gain in our experience of God if we see God as needing us rather than us constantly needing God?  Is there something in the love a parent for their child that we should explore as we love God?  The deep compassion that a mother has for her child, that she would do anything to protect it – can this be a way we relate to God in our lives? 
 
Children must have affection in their formative years.  A child without physical nurturing dies.  If we could relate to God as needing our love as much as we need God’s Love, would we be more aware when we are hateful towards others?  “What you do for the least of these, you do for me…”  Keep in mind, that the mother figure does not love her child out of obligation, but as a natural response.  When we love others as we would love God, as Christ commanded, we cannot love out of obligation but only sincerely out of a natural response to recognizing God in those around us.  The actions of love can be faked.  The actual feeling of love cannot.  Imagine an infant in your arms.  The soft skin.  A tiny hand barely able to wrapp around just one of your fingers.  Do you feel compassion towards this innocent child?  Imagine that God has chosen to appear to you as that child in your arms.  What feelings arise in you at that thought? 
 
You can of course take the child image farther and later in life.  Imagine what it would be like if God where in the midst of the “terrible twos” and having a temper tantrum, screaming at the top his lungs to be the center of attention and to get his way.  Difficult to imagine God like that?  But how is that image any different from fundamentalist theology blaming huricanes, tornadoes and jet planes in skyscrapers as the punishment of God for the sins of societies?  If you feel that a two year old’s temper tantrum is not appropriate for God, then be sure you’re making the same connection if you think a rathful God punishes when He doesn’t get His way.  Here again, negative aspects of these roles we are imagining can show us just as much about our experience and expectations of God as the postive aspects. 
 
So for the practice this week, contemplate the parent / child relationship.  Where have you refused to see God needing your love?  Where have you been exacting towards God instead of nurturing and compassionate?  Journal away, and may you come to feel the tender presence of innocent Love in your arms.  God’s Peace.

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