I have spent the last couple of days looking intently into the face of a very small person as he gurgles, ‘talks’, looks and smiles. Yes, the doting grandfather has received a video clip – just over a minute in length. Obviously enthralled I have been fascinated just studying his face and watching him and wondering many times what his perception of the world is like. I can watch the clip again and again. I think I will not grow tired of it. In fact I wonder whether I should set my phone to remind me each hour to do so. For one minute in 60 look into the face of a small person.
I sometimes also imagine lots of little faces – different features, colours, clothing, in safety, in danger, well fed, hungry, in warmth, out in the elements – and my heart breaks at the thought. (Is that why I don’t think such thoughts often?) I imagine all those adults holding babies wanting the same things I want when I hold a little one – food, safety, warmth, love. As the adults on this planet, one would think we should be adult enough to work together so that all babies can gurgle happily and grow up in love and safety.
We all have responsibilities in this area – and we can feel swamped by the enormity and the history (none of this is new … sadly) … but it means starting where you are – with what – with whom! – you hold in your hands. It means serving these little ones whether it is a feed, changing a nappy, or creating legislation, or funding something that will enrich their lives. Keeping these little ones in mind would be a very good thing, I think.
A Christmas verse, which I think is often overlooked, is Luke 2:19 – But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. That’s what you do when holding, rocking, soothing a baby – think and pray and want good things – ponder – as you do what needs to be done to care for the precious bundle you hold. I am sure she wanted good things for this special child. I am also sure that while meeting Anna in the temple was probably a ‘proud parent’ moment, meeting Simeon was something else – something troubling. Why would Jesus be spoken against?! What would pierce a mother’s heart?! (I can imagine an anguished ‘Noooo!’.) We just don’t want bad things to happen to little ones!
And in Christianity … God doesn’t either! That is why God has entered our world so small – so vulnerable – as one of us (later we will discover that this Jesus somehow amazingly didn’t sin) – so that the forces that terrorise us – our perverse and mysterious selfishness and ability to hurt each other, fear and death – might be defeated. There’s already a cross, small on the horizon. God has rescued all his little ones – we are all little to him – so that we might live in love – and that is best done when we serve each other.
Holding Bible verses in our hearts and minds, holding bread and wine in our hands, and holding little ones can give us God’s perspective that life is precious and we are loved – and thus we should do what we can so the little ones around us – indeed everyone around us – can smile.
And if you want a smile, I will happily show you a video clip on my phone! GS