Isaiah 11:6 – The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. (NIV)
Many who have worshipped on Christmas Eve or who have attended Church School Christmas pageants held on a Sunday evening during the month of December will be able to recall an instance when a particular child "stole the show" or at least captured the hearts of those attending. It is often said that "Christmas is for children." Biblically this is true — but in a sense that we don't often comprehend or appreciate.
I vividly recall an occasion — not on Christmas Eve — when I was conducting worship in the village church where I served as a young pastor. The service on this particular Lord's Day included both the Sacrament of Baptism for a wee child, and the celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. On this particular day, we were without the benefit of an organist, and so, we were singing unaccompanied.
Sermon ended, baptism complete, and the Lord's Supper finished, we were singing the final verses of the communion hymn. All of a sudden, an older sibling of the one who had been baptized, who had been standing with the family in the front pew, turned to her mother, pointed to the front platform, and said in a loud, clear voice, "Mommy, there's a mouse!"
Sure enough, a furry little creature had crawled out from behind the lectern in front of the organ, scooted across to the centre of the platform, and looked up at the worshipping congregation. It was all I could do to retain my composure enough to lead, without a break in my voice, the singing of the final two stanzas of the hymn. Needless to say, previous evidence of the presence of mice in the church building was no longer ignored; steps were taken by the managers to find and plug the entrance hole!
Isaiah in chapter 11 shares the vision God gave to him of the arrival of the Messiah. It is a picture of Eden and paradise restored. Animals, especially ones usually mentioned together only as predators and prey, are happily living alongside each other, and it is a little child who is leading them.
It is most significant that we celebrate today the anniversary of the birth of the Christ child. Jesus became one of us and chose to enter our world as an infant. He is the little child who will tame the wilds of the sin-disturbed creation and restore beauty, balance, and peace to God's world. In the maturity of His public ministry, He tells all who will listen, "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3 NIV) Simple, honest, authentic, child-like trust in our good and gracious God, revealed in Jesus who comes to us first as a child, enables us to realize the privilege of being adopted as His beloved children.
Let us remember the children who at Christmas and at other times have caught our attention in worship. Let us rejoice that God became a child, to show us that "a little child will lead". Most of all, let us ask God's grace that this Child be born in our hearts, that we, as new-born children of God, may enter the kingdom of heaven and rejoice!
Prayer: We thank You, our gracious God, for becoming one of us, as a little child, in the birth of Jesus. Knit our hearts to Him in faith and teach us to lead as little children. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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