Well, it's a couple of days past Christmas, but I wanted to post anyway. This post is partially inspired by the Christmas Eve service, but I couldn't write it until now!
I celebrate Christmas, as the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The Christmas story has always captivated me.
Even as a child, I could picture being heavy with child and wandering the streets with nowhere to stay, frightened and tired. I can imagine finding a cold, drafty barn - and can barely imagine giving birth, unassisted, in the hay. A young first-time and unmarried mother, with her fiance who may or may not (to the world) be the father of the baby, horses, cows and sheep as her midwives - no epidural or hospital delivery room here! When she delivered safely and finally held her baby boy in her arms, I imagine she looked into his newborn eyes and saw the face of God.
I know how she felt. I felt it, 9 months ago, when I first looked into my son's eyes. Holding a baby is like holding a piece of God.
Babies are magic. No matter your faith, there is something truly spiritual about holding a newborn child - yours or someone else's. You hold them and wonder where the soul inside came from, because clearly it is not far flung from that place. Everything else stops; all the worry, the fear, the "hustle and bustle." For the moments that precious soul curls up on your body, you would give anything to protect them from harm. You understand the meaning of "precious" and "priceless." Whenever I doubt the existence of something greater, I hold a newborn in my arms and I know, by some definition (even if not my own), He is real.
Christmas is celebrated at the winter Solstice, although research indicates that Jesus of Nazereth was likely born around September. As the early Christian church was encountering pagan nations, those people would not (could not) give up the celebration of this time each year, when the darkest nights finally give way to light and hope. What could be more hopeful than birth? So, the return of the Sun became the birth of the Son, the arrival of light into a dark world.
As we finish up our Christmas season, I hope you can hold a piece of Christmas in your arms. My hope for this year is that every child that enters this world be treated with love, as the magnificent gift that they are. I pray that we will all work to give those beautiful, freshly-delivered souls a world worthy of their innocence. If you are Christian, when you're holding that precious child in your arms, imagine the gift that God gave the world, if He sent His only son to us, to be our light through dark nights.
For every night, a child is born, every night a child is given. Every night is a Holy Night.
Merry Christmas, everyone.