One of my kids’ Christmas wish lists was a page and a half long, and included a metal detector just in case there’s treasure buried in the yard. Outlandish? Materialistic? Yes, perhaps. But the crazy-long list also reminded me that my child so trusts in my love for him that he asks me for things, no matter how excessive, because he knows I want to bless him.
I’ve learned so much about God from being a mother. My kids have helped me grow in humility, patience, and love, but I’ve also gained a deeper understanding of God’s love for me. If He feels more deeply about me than I do about my own kids, His forgiveness must be sure, and He must really, really love me.
Kids and Christmas…they do go together, don’t they? Not just because of Santa Claus, cookie decorating, and page-and-a-half long wish lists. But because Jesus was a child, too, and on Christmas we celebrate His incarnation, remembering what He gave to be born of a woman, live and die to save us from our sins. God’s gift of His Son is the biggest gift we’ll ever receive.
Following the story of Jesus’ birth in Matthew’s Gospel, we’re given a brief account of the children who were near the stable that first Christmas. In a horrible postscript, Jesus’ neighbors in Bethlehem are mentioned:
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When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled. “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, for they are no more. (Mt. 2:16-18)
Two verses only, but they are devastating in their impact.
These little boys from Bethlehem, traditionally called the Holy Innocents by the church, were perhaps only a few dozen in number, just peasant children easily disregarded by history. Nevertheless, several denominations remember these children, who were beloved by their parents and their God, commemorating their loss on December 28.
Over the years, the name Holy Innocents has come to refer not just to those babies from Bethlehem, but has embraced other children who departed from our arms too soon. Young victims of violence or illness are remembered this day, as are infants who were never born, due to abortion or miscarriage.
Image by capturedbychelsea via FlickrWhen I suffered my own miscarriage and placed my own Innocent into God’s arms, God taught me several things, but one of the most important lessons was how much He loves my children. God cares for our babies more than we do. He wants what’s best for them, knows them intimately, and cares what happens to them.
He loves them so much that He’s made a place for them, and they are safe in His arms.
As Jack Hayford writes in his book, I’ll Hold You In Heaven, “Rather, each of those little ones are present with the Father. They have identity, individuality and deserve to be known for what they are – eternal beings. They still have a divine purpose which, though it may transcend our understanding for the moment, we shall perceive clearly when the day dawns that we no longer see as through a glass, darkly, but then face-to-face.”
What a gift, to have eternity with those we love! Even if we’ve never seen each other’s faces, or the time we had to adore those faces was far too short.
That is part of the miracle of Christmas: in our world of sin and loss, of Herod’s cruelty and a mother’s grief, a Baby came and penetrated the darkness, offering us hope, salvation, and light. And a place for all of us, even those whose faces we have yet to behold.