The Family Gathers

Thursday, December 14, 2000

2 Corinthians 6:18 – "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. (NIV)

Luke 2:6-7a – While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. (NIV)

The air was heavy with grief. Grandma's time had come to share in Christ's glory. As I entered, the family was already gathered round the hospital bed. Several hugs later, after Scripture had been read, comfort and love eased their sorrow. Now grandmother's hands lay frail and quiet upon the sheet, her breathing shallow and slow. Our hands formed a circle around the bed, including her, and I prayed for the life that was slowly leaving us.

Life ebbed and flowed in that room, while prayers were also said for new life, as a great-grandson had recently been born. We wondered if the little one had any of his great grandmother's characteristics — her nose, her hands? Time was repeating itself — generation after generation — and we saw the hand of God at work in descending generations.

My thoughts later turned to another baby born many years ago. Mary gave birth to our Lord, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes to keep him warm on that Bethlehem night. Did she check his hands, his toes to see if they were like hers? What characteristics did the little one have from his holy Father?

Now, generations later, what characteristics do we, as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven, have that can be recognised by the next generation? I have known special people who have shown in their daily lives God's great heart of love. There have been sisters in the faith who have also held in their hands a fountain of blessing. Yes, I know men and women who, with Jesus' eyes, have looked with compassion on the poor and the needy. I have had people pray for my healing with the hands of Christ upon me.

Now Christmas nears, and again the family gathers — God's sons and daughters in this generation. Who among us has the characteristics of our Lord?

Prayer: Lord, we look around and see in other people your characteristics of loving compassion, faithfulness, and even joy in sorrow. May those we are with today see in us the face of Christ, and the hands of Mary. We have gathered around your bed of hay, your cross of shame; now your time has come again. Be born in us today. Amen.

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Iris Ford

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