Welcoming a child

Yesterday I trekked across town in the rain to visit some dear friends’ new baby boy. It probably wasn’t anything like the pilgrimage of the wise men two thousand years ago but it felt like a bit of an effort, but one made worthwhile by the chance of some cuddles and to share my friends’ joy at his safe arrival. I offered my gifts of baby clothes and nappies; perhaps not as deep and meaningful as frankincense or myrrh but more immediately useful. Spending more time with toddlers and other young children you can forget just how tiny newborn babies are, and his little fingers were so cute (if rather hidden by too long sleeves). But he’ll grow into it.

We spoke about our mutual friends who recently lost a baby who was born very prematurely. It was very sad news, but I have been grateful to hear how well supported the couple have been by their family and local church. They seem to be managing so well, but I pray for continued support and love for them over the coming weeks and months as they come to terms with their loss. They have a strong faith that their son has been welcomed to heaven, though much too soon. I know Christmas can be a difficult time for people who have lost loved ones and I pray for peace, comfort and even joy through the sadness. The Indigo Girls sang a version of Melissa Manchester’s song, “There’s still my joy” which I really like on a new Christmas album I’ve been given. The chorus says:

One tiny child can change the world
One shining light can show the way
Through all my tears for what I’ve lost
There’s still my joy, there’s still my joy for Christmas Day

The miracle of Christmas is that the son of God made himself a vulnerable baby to be born into the world to save us. His hands which had shaped the heavens, that “flung stars into space” as one song-writer put it, became so tiny, and later were pierced by nails as Jesus was crucified for us. His willing sacrifice made it possible for everyone, from unborn and premature babies to the most cynical and weary adults to have a relationship with God, who welcomes all who will come to him.

I guess many of us will be busy tomorrow, trying to prepare a delicious dinner and keep different people happy as we spend time with relatives and friends. In all the bustle and merriment I hope we can still welcome the child whose birth we are celebrating, into our homes and our attitudes to one another. And I pray a blessing on all who are serving others at Christmas – welcoming the homeless, the isolated, the sick and the needy. It’s a long time since I spent Christmas working in a Children’s home, but it was an important job. Whoever welcomes a little child, or someone else who might be considered the least, in his name welcomes Christ.

Peace be with you – have a very happy Christmas and a blessed 2012.

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