Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24, 2012

Today's text

As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19)


What did Mary see as she gazed at her infant son, pondering the night that gave him birth? What moved in her heart as she stroked the tender flesh of his palms and learned each line? I think I know.

About 30 years ago, I stood before Salem Lutheran Church on Christmas morning and nodded at Lisa, holding out my arms for her to hand me her infant son, Cody.

I cradled him in my arms and preached a sermon, speaking softly, barely looking at the congregation. I looked at Cody, studying his hands and wondering aloud what they would do, what they would touch, who they would love and bless.

What pains and joys would these tiny hands know on the plains of rural Nebraska or wherever life might take him? At the end of the sermon, we baptized him into the life of Christ to prepare him for his journey.

We were all Mary that day, every one of us pondering a child, our hearts filled with a love only tears can speak. We knew her. We felt something of what filled her heart as she traced the lines and creases of these precious hands.

But there was so much she could not know that first Christmas morning.

She could not know that the hands of her child would bless and heal billions. They would welcome the weary and cast out demons that disfigure human souls. They would brush away detractors and beckon children to come and be enfolded in his love.

These hands would reach out and touch those others rejected. They would hold the bread of life and break it to feed thousands. They would wash the feet of his friends and forgive them when they failed him.

These hands would send men and women on the holy mission of loving this crazy world with all their hearts … because he loves it so much.

And at the end, his hands would bear the brutality of the executioner’s nails, wielded by those who could not risk being loved and changed by the grace of his touch.

Mary didn’t know all this. But we do.

We know: Jesus’ hands bear the touch of heaven to the wounds of earth. His are the hands of the One who is Love Unbounded, Mercy Unsurpassable, Beauty Inexpressible.

In his touch, we see and know the Love who draws us to know him, so that we may know the home, the peace, the total welcome for which our hearts have never ceased longing.

Look at his hands. They tell the story.

This year, on Christmas morning, we will baptize Harper Noelle Taylor at St. Timothy, and I will look at her hands. Once more, I will know Mary … and the God who comes in the tenderness of human touch.

For prayer and reflection

  • What images, feelings, ideas or stories came to you as you read the reflection? What does God’s Spirit say to you?
  • When have you felt like Mary?
  • What have you been pondering as Christmas approaches? What does your heart need and want this Christmas?

Another voice

And who could be the same for having held the infant in their arms, and later felt the wounded hands and side, all doubts dispelled. Who could but sigh: Immanuel! Who could but shout: Immanuel!
(“Peace Came to Earth,”  Jaroslav J. Vajda, 1984)

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