The gift of manger hands
Many people know a familiar hymn once sung regularly at confirmations: “Take thou my hand and lead me.”
How can I describe those hands of God which will reach out to me and lead me?
They are the hands reported to us in the wonderful creation story in Genesis at the beginning of the Bible, where we read of God creating the world. The Bible writers speak in a special way of this work that God does. We are told that God is directly involved in forming the world – like a potter with clay forming a pot. God gets dirty hands in making the world and everything in it. God is not in some distant heaven but God is with us. It is the hands of this creator God, which reach out to me.
Later in the Bible, in one of the Psalms, we are told of God creating each of us, purposefully and diligently. Psalm 139 speaks of God knitting us together in our mother’s womb. What a beautiful, though somewhat messy-sounding image, yet once again we hear that God is a “hand’s-on” creator. God is not in far off heaven but so close to us, even in our Mother’s womb before we are born. It is the hands of this intimate master craftsperson God, which reach out to me.
As we draw near to Christmas, we are shown these hands of mercy, up close and personal, in Jesus. If you look at the hands of the baby Jesus shown in a standard nativity scene, (and if those hands have been formed in the traditional way), then you will see the hands of God in the manger outstretched upward outward to you. Here God is saying, “I love you and want to bless you.” These are the hands of our compassionate God which reach out to me.
We also know these hands from the story of the cross of Calvary. On Good Friday, Jesus’ hands are spread wide as he declares just how much he loves us. With hands nailed to the cross, he declares that his plans are to prosper us, and not for our harm. So, he takes upon himself the sin of the world that we would know life, salvation and the forgiveness of sin. These are the hands of our Saviour God that reach out to me.
In the manger, we see the Maker of the stars and sea become a child on earth for me, for the salvation of the world.
I pray an abundant measure of God’s Holy Spirit upon you, as you share this good news of Christmas with those around you. God bless you as you travel into the new year, held fast by the hand of man of Bethlehem and Galilee.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!” (Luke 2)
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