We Can Find the Baby Jesus
December 30, 2007
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Did you have a good Christmas? I did. I really did, visiting with family, friends, and loved ones, and I hope that you did, too.
Our topic and our title today is “We Can Find the Baby Jesus.” Friends, I must tell you, it is so good to be with you this morning. This is a special morning. This is a happy morning. It’s Christmas Sunday. Hear the good news: the gifts are bought; the gifts are wrapped; the gifts are given; the gifts are enjoyed; the parties are gone to and enjoyed; the food is bought, cooked, and enjoyed. We’ve celebrated. But today is the day that we can gather together as a family in Christ and think about one thing only, and that is Jesus Christ. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? I am so proud of you for being in church this morning. I am so happy to be with you today, because together, as a family, we can celebrate the greatest part of Christmas, the reason for the season – Jesus.
I’d like to tell you a little story that some dear friends told to me. It seems they were in a store after Christmas. There were decorations on sale. There were a lot of Santa Clauses and elves and carolers and candles and reindeer, but one family member mentioned that there weren’t any mangers or signs of Jesus. They looked around; there were indeed a lot of decorations, but no sign of Christ or the manger. As they looked around, the little girl went wandering by herself. In a voice that was like a trumpet that could be heard throughout the store, by all the shoppers, she triumphantly proclaimed, “I found the baby Jesus! I found the baby Jesus!” What a wonderful moment that must have been! The family joined the girl, and sure enough, there in a little manger set in the corner was a tiny baby Jesus.
I can’t think of anything better to do at Christmastime than to find the baby Jesus. Let’s find Him together, shall we? I invite you to come with me to Bethlehem, along with the shepherds, and remember the words of Scripture:
“The angel said to them, ‘You shall find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And they went with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
Today is the day that we can concentrate on finding Him. Oh, we’ve talked about angels and we’ve talked about shepherds. We talked about Mary and Joseph and John and Elizabeth. But today, let’s think about what it would be like to go to Bethlehem and see the baby. What would it be like for you, for me, to walk through those stable doors? What would it look like? Can you see the rough-hewn rafters? The nightingales singing on one of them? Can you smell the fresh hay all over the floor? You’re face-to-face with the wonderful cow and the donkey, the animals whose remarkable sight witnessed the birth of the Lord Jesus that night. There’s a young woman, trembling and fearful, dressed in blue, and a young man of courage and responsibility standing by, staff in hand. And in the little manger, the improvised cradle, in the straw, is the most wonderful, beautiful baby you ever saw. What would you do? What would I do?
I think the first thing I would do is just look in awe and respect. Heaven come to earth, the blessing of the heavenly Father among us. Praise God! What a miracle! And then, I think, I’d like to walk over to the manger and look in and offer my hand. Have you ever had your hand clasped by a baby’s hand? Those tiny fingers curl around and clasp your finger. Your finger is so large, and the baby’s fingers are so small, perfectly shaped, a little wrinkled, topped with tiny fingernails. Can you reach into the manger and let Him grasp your hand? And in that grasp, can you feel it? Can you feel the connection to the divine, as His hand clasps your hand? Let’s be reminded that Jesus is about connection; because He is in your life, you have a connection with the Almighty God, the Everlasting Father. Through the Prince of Peace, you are connected, forever and ever, unbreakably, to God.
Then, I think, I’d like to hold the baby. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you like to pick the baby up and hold Him in your arms? What an awesome thing that would be! There is a wonderful ancient hymn about Mary, the mother of Jesus, and it calls Mary the Rose. The words are:
“There is no rose of virtue
As is the rose that bear Jesu.
For in that rose, contained was
Heaven and earth in little space.
Gaudeamus. (Let us rejoice.)
Can you feel what it’s like to hold Heaven and earth in little space? This One who was with the Father before all ages is in your hands. This is Christmas, to hold the baby.
And then I would like to look into His eyes. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a baby and have him gaze back at you? A child can look at you with an amazing gaze that is timeless and visionary. You find yourself connected to the child. The child looks at you, and you look at the child, and in the child’s eyes you see your own face. You see yourself reflected. All the hope of the future is in those eyes, and that future includes you. He beholds you. You are precious to Him. The One who beheld the Father in ages of old now beholds you, and holds you close as you hold Him.
There is an ancient, Middle English poem that goes something like this:
Honde by honde then schulle us take
Ant joye ant bliss schulle us make
For the devil of Hell man hagt forsake
And God His own Son is for us make.
Hand by hand we shall us take,
And joy and bliss we shall make,
For the devil of hell we do forsake,
And God’s own Son is to us born.
You hold Him in your arms, and you see your reflection in His eyes.
This child was God,
This child was man,
And in this child
Our life began.
Oh, my dear friends, on this Christmas Sunday, may you have the experience of holding the newborn King. May you see your reflection in His eyes, and know that you are eternally precious to Him, even as He is eternally precious to you. May we dwell on this this Christmas Sunday and always, because God loves you. I do, too. Merry Christmas! Amen.
© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski