From a Moltmann sermon on Isaiah 9:
All the images the prophet uses to paint the possible future point to one fact: the birth of the divine child. The burning of the weapons, the jubilation and the great light are all caught up in the birth of God’s peace-bringer. They are all to be found in him. Now the prophet stops talking in intoxicating images and thrilling comaprisons, and comes to the heart of the matter: the person of the divine liberator. ‘To us a child is born. To us a son is given.’…
The kingdom of peace comes through a child, and liberation is bestowed on the people who become as children: disarmingly defenseless, disarming through their defenselessness, and making others defenseless because they themselves are so disarming. After the prophet’s mighty visions of the destruction of all power and the forceful annihilation of all coercion, we are now suddenly face to face with this inconspicuous child.
–The Power of the Powerless, page 33.
You guys, this is one of my absolute favorite phrases: the disarming child. As with many other Moltmannian phrases, it feels like there is a UNIVERSE of meaning in there. I could just wander around in there forever, like the world’s biggest and most wonderful nature preserve. The child who has been born to us is, perhaps more than anything else, if using just one word to sum the whole thing up, disarming. Isn’t every story about Jesus like that?! This baby born in a stable in some know-nothing town, this toddler who is visited by astrologers from a different country, this child who baffles all the experts at the Temple with his wisdom, the man who tells us parables that make us scratch our heads and squirm and feel hopeful and inspired sometimes all at the same time, this person who goes into Jerusalem when everyone thinks he’s going to take over the throne and he submits himself to die instead.
In the midst of a world of strife and aggression, we find ourselves face to face with this inconspicuous child. And we find ourselves completely disarmed- emotionally, mentally, rationally, literally. We drop our weapons and take up shovels because we just can’t imagine doing anything else after seeing the face of this child.
If I had to say in one simple sentence why it is that I follow Jesus, despite all the evidence to the contrary, despite all the very understandable arguments, despite all my doubts, it is this: I follow him because he is the most disarming person I have ever encountered. Disarming because he puts me off kilter just enough for me to feel a deep need for transformation; because he makes me question the finality of the reality and see and begin to wonder about the reality that could be possible; disarming because even at my most defensive, I find myself in a posture that is properly receptive, or at the very worst, that will be eventually receptive. I am won over by this deep disarming love. I am bowled over and blown away by it. And it’s Advent, so I feel it’s less awkward for me to say that with a little more gusto than usual. Unto us this disarming child is born, and the world will never be the same.