Have you given much thought to the concept of a baby’s being the mode in which the very presence of God would be manifested in this world? Think about it: a baby – a helpless, powerless, weak, vulnerable, defenseless baby.
I love babies; I always have. I am glad that I was born into a family with lots of children who wanted to have lots of children. There was never a lack of babies in our family, babies that needed to be held and cuddled and rocked to sleep. Holidays were always special because of babies. The conversations centered around them were always the same: "Look how much he/she has grown!” “Is he/she walking yet?” “He's going to be as big as his father!"
The Savior of this world was once a baby – a helpless, powerless, weak, vulnerable, defenseless baby; a baby who fed at the breast of his dear mother; a baby who needed to be cuddled and rocked to sleep; a baby whose diaper needed to be changed; a baby who got sick, who cried, who cooed, who made other people like me smile when they looked into his beautiful eyes. This was our Jesus.
I guess it is good for us to remember at times what all the celebration is about. What we are celebrating is the birth of a baby – not a king, not a mighty warrior, not a ruler or a person of great wealth and power, but a baby, a baby who would grow up like any other child, a baby who would become the Savior of the world. Once again the birth of the baby, Jesus!
There is a painting that hangs in many homes of a man, sitting at a table, with hands folded in prayer over what appears to be a very simple meal. I believe the painting is named, "Old Man Praying." What sticks out in
my mind as I think about that painting is the Old Man's hands. His hands are large and thick. They look like they are the hands of someone who made a living doing hard work. They are dark, perhaps tanned from long days working in the sun. As he sits at his table hovering over his meal with hands folded in prayer, I see the image of a man who has lived a full and productive life.
Our hands can tell a great deal about us can't they. By shaking someone's hand we can get some idea of what kind of work they do. A rough, calloused hand is evident of a person who has to work with his or her hands on a daily bases. A smooth hand might indicate a person whose work is less manual.
I remember my own hands when I was a farmer. They were very rough and calloused, many times nicked
and scared from working on machinery and such. Wintertime was particularly hard on my dairy- farmer-hands as they became chapped and cracked, a result of the combination of cold and wet working conditions.
Sometimes our occupations can be hazardous to our hands. Whenever I meet a carpenter, I always look at
his hands to see if the power saw he works with has claimed any of his digits.
Henri Nouwen writes about the dual nature of the hand. Nouwen states, "It can create and destroy, caress
and strike, make welcoming gestures and condemning signs; it can bless and curse, heal and wound, beg and give."
In our own lives and in the world around us we have witnessed on many occasions the duality of the hand. Perhaps we have even been the body on the end of the hand. The hand has the option, using Nouwen's analogy, when walking past the poor, to lift up, or to push down. The hand has the option, when confronted with the hurting and lonely, to rest compassionately on a shoulder or to shun and ignore.
If St. Luke’s had hands, what do you think they would look like? Would they be blistered and calloused from toiling in God's Kingdom? Would they be folded to our chest complacently, or out stretched to those in
During this season of Thanksgiving, it is a good time to take a look at our hands, both individually and corporately as members of the Body of Christ. As we are seated at our tables spread in abundance, and as we fold our hands in prayer, let us all remember that we are called to be the hands of Christ, reaching out to those in need. We are called to be the people of God, with hands lifted up in praise to God's holy name. We are called to be grateful people with hands folded in thankful prayer.