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You Have to Put the Baby down Somewhere

“You have to put the baby down somewhere”
A Sermon for Port Royal Baptist Church
Christmas Morning 2016; Year A
Luke 2; Titus 2:11-14

Hiking, working in the field all day, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden: Humans are able to do a surprising number of things while holding babies.

A mostly broken animal nativity set that manages to stay in use each year in the author’s house. Here, baby Jesus naps under the kneeling adoration of a lamb while a donkey and camel approach to pay him homage.

Washing hands, cooking, drawing up medicines one-handed, riding in a car, taking a shower, using the bathroom, doing laundry, teaching, preaching, leading worship, eating, washing dishes, typing sermons, studying:

All these things have been done either holding a baby or with a baby strapped on somehow. Did I mention carrying 70 or so pounds of firewood? I’ve seen it done.

You can hold a baby while doing almost anything, if you have to.

But sooner or later, you have to put the baby down somewhere.

You can’t hold them all the time. And sometimes that place is going to be less than ideal:

On the table, in a sink, in a laundry basket, in a dresser drawer, on the ground, in a shoebox on the door of an open oven, on the floor of a public restroom to change a diaper, under the Christmas tree, in a big box in the back of a car, on the floor of the house, in a car seat atop the dryer to soothe colic, on the floor of the shower, on the public restroom floor, propped up on couch cushions, in the bed between you, in the bed with a sibling, in the laundry hallway…

These are all some less-than-ideal places that babies have been put down, and I am sure you can think of a few more.

I had help with this list. I surveyed a group of clergywomen, and they had lots to say about where they slept when they were born, where their older relatives were placed as infants. (The shoebox on the oven door was with premature triplets, and I’m told dresser drawers were pretty common once upon a time.) They had long lists of places they’ve had to put babies down that were less than ideal.

Humans can do an astounding number of things while holding babies. But sooner or later, you have to put the baby down somewhere.

And so did Mary and Joseph.

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