Babies are cute. Perhaps that’s why many people find it so easy to trivialise Christmas. Baby Jesus, lying helpless in the manger, can be viewed with mild affection.
People can smile down at him, and then move on to the real business of Christmas—shopping, holidays, being with family and sending cards that say ‘Season’s Greetings’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ so they don’t offend anyone with an overly religious message.
Have you ever placed your finger inside the hand of a little baby and felt its grip? And when they grip your finger, they also tug at your heart. Christmas is love tugging people’s hearts back to God with the powerful grip of a tiny hand reaching out from a bed of straw.
At Christmas, Jesus reaches out with the tiny hand of an infant to grab hold of our hearts and pull us back to God. This is the Christmas story. This is the hope of the world. This is Jesus who wants to transform our lives.
I have read the following description numerous times, always with the same excitement and fascination: ‘He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village and worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was 30. For three years he was an itinerant preacher.
‘He never wrote a book, never held an office, never owned a home, and never had a family. He never went to university and never travelled more than 350 kilometres from the place where he was born.
‘He never did any of the things that usually accompany greatness and he had no credentials but himself.
‘While he was still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away and he was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
‘He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on Earth—his coat. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the kindness of a friend.
‘Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is still the central figure of the human history.
‘All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat, and all the kings that have ever reigned, have not affected the life of people upon this Earth as much as that one solitary life.’ (Attributed to James Allan Francis, One Solitary Life 1926)
This one solitary life is the hope and the light of the world (John chapter 8, verse 12).