I’ve never been a good sleeper. But years of motherhood, of getting up with babies in the night, did me in. My ears are tuned to the faintest sound of distress. So I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received was a weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets are filled with pellets, and when they are draped over a hyper-stimulated body, they can help it relax. These blankets work on theory that something called “deep touch pressure” helps the body regulate itself when under physical and emotional distress.
Deep pressure is also the phenomenon behind infant swaddling and might help explain why Mary wrapped the newborn Jesus “snugly in strips of cloth” (Luke 2:7). Luke’s record of Mary wrapping her son in “swaddling bands” is the first record we have of the incarnated body of the Son of God.
The first thing you learn about Jesus’s physical humanity is his need for comfort and care.
“Swaddling clothes” also help a newborn transition from the womb to the world.
When birth ushers an infant into a world of intense physical sensation, his senses are bombarded—every touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight is amplified.
Now imagine this. The God of the universe chooses to come to earth as a baby. But to do this, he must cede control, even over his own body. So his mother does what any good mother would do: she wraps him tightly, knowing this will calm him. And suddenly his muscles begin to relax, his breathing is softer and finally, he falls asleep, safe in his mother’s arms.
When I think of how Mary clothed infant Jesus, it reminds me of how God clothed the naked bodies of Adam and Eve. After they’d eaten the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:7 says that instantly “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.”
Their sin ushered them into a new existence. And in the light of righteousness, they stand exposed and ashamed.
They try to hide themselves, but everything is out of their control. Then Genesis says this: “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife” (Genesis 3:21).
You might be tempted to read this as their nakedness offended God. Or you might read as if God stepped in to solve a problem he had not created.
But reading it this way would miss the heart of a good Father.
In Isaiah 66, he promises: “I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.”
And so he clothed them. He covered and comforted them.
Just as Mary cared for her son, God cares for us.
Seeing us helpless and exposed, he clothes us, wrapping us tightly in the bands of his merciful compassion.
And so today with eyes of faith, we learn to trust this care. We learn to trust that the God who clothed and comforted his restless children in the garden—the God who was clothed as a restless child—will do the same for us.
We trust that the bands of his everlasting love will hold us secure, today and for eternity.
Adapted with permission from Heaven and Nature Sing: 25 Advent Reflections to Bring Joy to the World by Hannah Anderson. Copyright 2022, B&H Publishing.