“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you. See? I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49: 15-16)
When my children were born, I had many hopes and dreams for them. Today, each one works with young people teaching, offering healing. They have far exceeded my wildest dreams for them. I give thanks to God every day for the blessing of their lives and love.
“Mary Did You Know,” a beloved Christmas song, asks, “Mary did you know that your baby boy…” would heal people, calm storms, teach, preach, and give his life for the world? Mary believed her son was a special child of God, the long awaited Messiah who would lead her people to freedom. Yes, Jesus far exceeded her wildest dreams for him.
Each and every child that is born, male or female, is a special child of God. Each baby begins with the God-given potential to bring joy and healing to our world. We cannot see into the future. We don’t know what wonder or pain awaits a new baby. Like Mary we are called to love each child and believe “with God, all things are possible”.
The news tells us about the lost children, the difficult ones. On the street we see strangers who appear different from us. They come packaged as young people pierced and sullen, or adults tough or lost. Society has taught us to fear them, to turn away. In his day, people feared the itinerant preacher, Jesus. With hindsight, we can see the wonder and joy that Jesus has given us. As Christians, we know the acceptance and forgiveness he brought and still brings to the pain and misery of our hurting world.
This Christmas, as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, remember that each new baby, each child, each adult has been born with the potential to bring goodness to our world. Open your heart to receive that goodness at every opportunity.
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is his name.”
Many of us try to get everything right at Christmas. Those in charge of cooking endeavour to prepare the most sumptuous feast of the entire year. In our effort to choose “the right gift,” plan the “best party,” do “the right thing” that will keep everyone happy, we get buried in the work of Christmas. The celebration becomes a mountain of expenses and a valley of exhaustion. We declare, “Christmas is ruined. Society has commercialized it. Let’s run away. Let’s not celebrate at all.” For Christians escape is not an option. The celebration of Jesus’ birth is second only in importance to the celebration of Easter. What then can we do?
On our front lawn, a spot light illuminates the word “JOY”. The “O” carries the silhouette of the Christmas nativity, announcing Jesus’ birth. Many years ago, a friend, shared his creative gift with wood, by making this for me. When the preparations and celebrations of Christmas leave me exhausted, this beautiful piece of art reminds me that two thousand years ago, God came in Jesus and changed the world.
At Christmas, I give gifts because I am grateful for God’s love, because I want to share the abundant blessings I have been given. I celebrate at parties because I am called to share the Joy of knowing God’s love and forgiveness. There is no “right” to our Christmas celebration. We are carrying on the joy that began with a carpenter, who through us is still touching lives with God’s love. We are lighting up the world with the “Good News” of creation. To be the gift of Christmas is a “holy privilege.” There’s no right way to do it. We need only give in love. It’s God’s job to make it “right”.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)