In late November and early December 2012, Lavone and I were priviledged to be on sabbatical in the Holy Land.  During that time we visited Bethlehem and found this nativity carving.  It has since become a Christmas icon in our home during Advent and Christmas.

We love the symbolism of this nativity—the Holy Couple, with their newborn child, in the natal cave which turns out to be none other than the loving Hand of God.  It reminds us that the whole story was and is “well in hand,” held and supported by the Hand that made all things in the beginning, the Hand which in the story itself becomes the little hands that are too small even to see in the natal carving.  The Hand and the hands in the foreground with a Heart in the background.

We recall and are moved to cherish these Hands—big enough to embrace and turn to good account all that was, is and will be, yet also small enough to clasp the reality as we clasp it, and to be touched by the things that touch us. 

Hands that can make, suffer, and heal.

Hands that rise in protest and praise.

Hands that give and hands that receive. 

Hands that tremble as they are pierced and fall limply dead.

Hands that surge with LIFE again holding what is broken until healed and whole. 

Hands that bid us come. 

Hands that warm our hearts and motion us on. 

Hands that gesture broadly to the wide and wonderful unimaginable expanse awaiting us.

Hands that hold us now and will not let us go … until then!  

Hands that in all these ways express the heart of God!

We may take comfort, draw strength, and dare to live in these good Christmas-Hands underneath, behind and all around us, strong and tender, providing and protecting, creating and completing, now and in the New Year.  

Published by David Kendall

Reverend David W. Kendall, an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference, was elected to the office of bishop of the Free Methodist Church in May 2005. He serves as overseer of East Michigan, Gateway, Great Plains, Mid-America, North Central, North Michigan, Ohio, Southern Michigan, Wabash, African Area Annual Conferences; and Coordinator of oversight for the World Ministries Center.

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  1. 1+

    What beautiful, artistic words.
    I will continually remember this image throughout the year.
    Thank you Bishop David.

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