The day you were born was a beautiful day. It may have been a very long time ago, or maybe not so much. And on that day, or a few days later, visitors came to see you. And the first to come were close, like aunts and uncles and cousins, and grandparents too. And when they came into the room where you were, they stepped in quietly, on tiptoe, with hushed tones. Why? Because a newborn has sensitive eyes and sensitive ears and sensitive skin, and they need to be held gently and rocked quietly and whispered to.
And when it was their turn to pick you up, they may have said things like, “You look just like your mother.” “I see your father in you.” “You have your grandfather’s eyes, or your grandmother’s nose.” Or, “I see me in you.” And as they caressed your chin with their finger or held onto your tiny little hands, they may have said, “You are beautiful. You are perfect. You are beloved.”
On Christmas Day, we remember the very first moments in his life. We step into the scene and we remember that Jesus was not born in the comfort of a house or in a hospital, but born, rather, in a stable behind the inn, far from home, in Bethlehem. And the first to notice this moment were not cousins and aunts and uncles, but a goat, a cow, a horse and a mule.
And soon, the shepherds came with their flock, because an angel told them. Not by text, not by email, but by whispering to them in the night. “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a saviour, the messiah, Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you, that you will see a child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And the shepherds came not just out of curiosity, though you would be curious if you had heard from an angel. They came because they had been invited; ordinary shepherds who, somehow, by God, were deemed to be close. And as the story goes, when they saw this, they made known all that had been told to them about the child, and all who heard it were amazed.
And now it is our turn to come on Christmas Day, like them. For some of us it’s been a very long time, and for others not so long ago, and yet we forget. It is we who are summoned to approach the manger, to come on tiptoe and with hushed tones, and to look in at a newborn child and to see someone more. In the glow, in the mystery of Christmas, we somehow look in, and somehow God peers back at us. And in the babbling of a child, we see God in Christ saying to us: I am for you. I have come for you. I see me in you. You are beautiful. You are perfect. You are beloved.