I’ve had babies on my mind this year – that’s because my first grandchild was born in April. Becoming a grandfather has been an immensely joyful experience. Many things have struck me forcibly as a result but one is what a wonderful and extraordinary gift new life is. Despite the advances of modern science which have transformed our understanding of ‘how’ life happens, there remains something deeply mysterious about it. My little grandchild, now aged eight months, already has consciousness and a personality. Where did they come from?
All this means that I approach Christmas this year with a new perspective. That God should choose to be born as a tiny baby is an amazing thing. I wonder anew at the vulnerability of the baby Jesus. A few weeks ago I was privileged to lead an ecumenical pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham. We spent some time in Bethlehem and I was reminded of how hard life is for families and children in the Middle East: many babies don’t make it, especially just over the border in Syria.
The birth of Jesus was a vulnerable and wonderful gift of new life not just to his parents and wider family but the whole world. His birth is a priceless gift to the human race. Why? Because in him earth and heaven come together. That’s why the heavens opened and the angels sang. Through his life, death and resurrection a new age has dawned, one in which Christians pray that God’s will may be done on earth as in heaven, believing it will happen.
It’s sometimes said that ‘Christmas is about children.’ It’s about so much more than that, though children can bring home the deep joy of it. Through the birth of Jesus I can have hope for my new granddaughter, one which stretches out into all eternity. Hope, too, for all of us who are made in God’s image – and for the whole creation.
I wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas.