Summary: The Christ born at Christmas is reborn in each of us and we can see him in others.
Max De Pree, a respected author of leadership books, has also written a book entitled, “Dear Zoe.” It is a book of letters written to his little granddaughter who was born 16 weeks prematurely. Zoe was only 11 inches long and weighed only 1 pound 7 ounces at birth. The doctors gave her a 5 - 10 % chance of living for three days. To complicate the things further, Max’s son-in-law exited the picture leaving Max to be the surrogate father as well as the grandfather. Zoe was so small that Max could slide his wedding ring over her fist and all the way up to her shoulder. The nurse told him that his job as substitute father was to speak tenderly to Zoe as he gently stroked her with one finger. That way she would be able to connect his voice and his touch and get to know him. Max came and visited her every day. He touched her and talked to her and let her know that she was deeply loved. Fortunately, little Zoe lived and she is a healthy, active adolescent today.
Now that is an upside down story of Christmas. Max was trying to show love and communicate who he was to this little baby. And at Christmas Jesus, came as a baby to show love to us and to communicate to us, revealing who God is.
I have often thought that the shepherds and wise men were lucky. We wish we could see Jesus like they were able to see Jesus. But the truth is, we are able to see Jesus. The Christ who was born at Christmas continues to be revealed to us today. He is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” God is alive and active in our world. The Holy Spirit is present in us and works through us. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of faith so that we can see Jesus, not just in the baby born in Bethlehem, not just the one suffering and dying on the cross, not even just in the one whose resurrection broke the bonds of death. We can see Jesus in other people.
There is a new series on TV called Joan of Arcadia. It is about a teenager named Joan. Joan is a pretty typical teen in that she gets in trouble at school for talking and failing to do her homework. She has problems at home. The biggest problem being that her brother was in a car accident and is a paraplegic. What is unique about Joan is that God talks to her, sort of like God used to talk to Joan of Arc. The thing is, God appears to her as a different person all of the time. One time God shows up as a buff looking high school boy. Another time God appears as a middle-aged black lady serving food in the lunch line. God appears to her as a jogger, someone at the bus stop or the janitor. Sometimes it takes a minute to realize, “Oh, this person isn’t just the janitor, this is God!” I like the show. It like the premise of the show that God appears to us all the time in other people.
Jim Klobuchar, in his book, “Pursued by Grace”, tells of his encounter with a little boy in the Himalayan mountains. Jim was sitting along a trail just watching the sunlight play on the snow of the mountains when a Sherpa farmer and his wife came walking up the trail with their five year old boy. Jim waved at the little boy and he timidly waved back. When the family reached the bridge the little boy turned and waved again, this time more aggressively. When they reached the other side of the bridge he grew more excited and waved all the harder. At each turn of the trail’s switchbacks up the slope the little boy would thrash his arms and Jim would respond with big waves of his own. Finally, his mother noticed this going on and she spoke to him. The boy then turned to Jim, placed his fingertips together as in prayer, and brought them to his lips. Jim couldn’t hear of course, but he knew what he was saying and Jim returned the gesture. The word the boy spoke was “Namaste”. In Nepalese, it translates into, “I salute the God who lives within you.”