Matthew 10:30 – And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (NIV)
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. (KJV)
A couple of books off my bookshelf got some extra wear and tear – and reading – this year. One is The Grey Seas Under. It's a book by Canadian author Farley Mowat, about the trials and tribulations of a company in the deep-sea salvage and rescue business. The other is Come Quick, Danger by Stephan Dubreuil. That book is a history of Canadian marine radio operators. Women and men who would listen vigilantly, with their earphones on, hour after hour, ready to respond to an SOS at sea. Since I'm a ham radio operator myself, I like reading about the people who are alert to the cry of distress from the sea, and who are willing to risk all to help save those in peril.
What's this got to do with Christmas, just days off? Quite a bit, I think.
God created this world. God watches over it with a sleepless eye. I don't think you'll doubt me when I say that this world is a mess, and has fallen far short of what the Lord intended it to be in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. Once, when the world was in a mess, God sent a flood. But not this time.
God, yearning over creation, like a parent with a sick child, came up with a different plan. It's as if the whole creation was sending out a distress signal. Instead of the dots and dashes of Morse code, creation was saying, "We can't do it on our own. Humanity is never going to make the grade without help." So God sent the Help.
It's as if Jesus heard the whole inexpressible longings of a creation fallen short of the Creator's plan, and said "I will go and rescue them. Send Me." Like the crew of a rescue helicopter, who leave their warm, snug base and venture out into the teeth of a winter's gale, Jesus left the glory of heaven and came to us. One moment, being part of the Godhead, with peace, joy, and delights that can't be put into words; the next moment, a helpless baby, on the scratchy hay of a manger.
Most people would rather do anything than trust a real, but invisible God. They'd take a hunk of plywood they can see and touch, rather than the God of the universe who cares for them. Both Matthew and Luke report the saying of Jesus that we are cared for so much, that every hair we have is known and numbered. I don't know how much hair is on my own head, but God does.
People have lost their lives in deep-sea rescues. And this is how much God cares for us. If you were a parent, how would you feel if your child were on a risk-their-life rescue mission. That's God's love. So Jesus "lost" His life. But, for Him and for us, that dying means that He will live forever, and so will all who call on His name. Christmas and Easter are but two sides of the same coin.
Just imagine yourself adrift on a storm-tossed ocean, in a small boat. Imagine your relief when you see through the blowing storm, a blinker light. Rescue is here! We're saved! Everything will be fine now. I think that blinker light is saying, "Joy to the World, the Lord is Come."
Prayer: Lord, in the midst of the Christmas crush, we would cry, "Help!" Please let us not forget that You are the help sent from above for us, to help us with every care we have in this world, and to bring us safely to your snug harbour in the world beyond. Amen.