Monday, December 26, 2005

A Mother, A Babe, Five Loaves and Two Fish

It was a damp, rainy Christmas day. In spite of the dreary weather, the joy of Christmas warmed our hearts as songs of praise filled the room. I sat in the second row and pondered a painting on the screen before me. It was a picture of Mary staring into the eyes of the Son of God, her Son, the Christchild. I couldn't imagine what she must have been thinking. Was she like the average mother who stares in wonder and amazement at her new baby? Probably. Did she ponder that this child is the very One who would one day be her Savior? Perhaps.

It's amazing how a person can get lost in thought. But, what stole my attention the most was thinking about the mother of God in that painting. There she sat, holding her precious God-child, staring into His helpless little eyes as he was probably grasping tightly onto her forefinger with his tiny fingers. As tears filled my eyes, my thoughts came to the mother Mary. This same mother, cradling her fully dependent, helpless, precious child, would one day stare into his lifeless eyes, hold his lifeless body and perhaps even grasp his lifeless hand as she sat there, helpless and fully dependent on the Son of God who just died for her own salvation.

The child, Emmanuel, Jesus, grew into adulthood. One day, while preaching, his disciples were concerned because there were so many hungry and they only had five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus blessed the food and the disciples passed it out. There was more than enough food for all. "They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over." (Matthew 14:13-21)

After the Christmas service was over, I stayed to help with coffee clean up. Before we were finished, I found myself inviting five additional guests to my home for Christmas dinner. Two of them were going home with no plans until much later that evening. The other three were going to have dinner at the local House of Pancakes. Much to my surprise, they actually accepted the invitation!

I began to feel a bit anxious on the way home. I had only had an hour and a half of sleep after staying up all night making Christmas preparations. One of those preparations was the presentation of a very special family Christmas table for dinner. I had been collecting for this for several weeks, from gold chargers, to gold flatware. I even made special napkin rings out of grapevine and garland. I wanted them to be surprised and excited to sit down for Christmas dinner at a beautifully elegant table. I set an extra place for the Founder of the feast, the Reason for the feast, the Christ, my Savior.

I wasn't concerned about the food so much as where I would put everybody. I remembered how Jesus fed the 5,000 with just five loaves and two fish. So, I left it up to Him to provide enough to eat and I knew He would. He not only provided but actually took His place amongst us.

While our guests were seated at the elegantly decorated table, and my family sat at a simply decorated card table with no candles and mix/match dinnerware, tears filled my eyes once again. I began to recognize our Special Guest. My heart awakened to the presence of the baby, Emmanuel, the One Who was once embraced as a babe in the arms of Mary. The One who captured her full attention as her precious new baby and as her dying Lord. I became aware of the same Emmanuel, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, present in the midst of the 6 hungry souls gathered around the table in His honor.

There is a parable which teaches that when we feed the hungry, clothe those who are in need, and care for the sick, we are feeding, clothing, and caring for Jesus. This Christmas, I got to feed the hungry. The funny part about it all is that I was also fed by them, and by the Spirit amongst us.

After we finished eating, there were so many leftovers that I was trying to send it home with our guests. There was enough food in my refrigerator from that meal alone to feed my family for at least a week. Perhaps it would have filled 12 baskets.

Merry Christmas

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