With rounded shoulders, she stooped low to scoop pecans from the leaf-covered ground of the orchard. My maternal grandmother, poor by the world’s standards, shelled pecans with arthritic, age spot speckled hands. She then placed them in dime-store containers and presented them as Christmas gifts.
Pain-filled hands laboring to give.
My mother created sequined stockings with embroidered names for her grandchildren who raced each year to see them hanging from the mantle. In addition to delighting them with her sewing, Mama’s flour-dusted hands shaped angel biscuits each Christmas morning.
Willing hands serving the family.
My dad’s hands restocked the church food bank pantry for families who needed assistance. Despite my mother’s budget reminders, Daddy slipped Christmas cookies into the grocery cart for the children. He also set up Fraser firs in the living room each year for my mom to decorate with glass balls and crocheted snowflakes.
Caring hands ministering in love.
Have you considered the hands of those who witnessed the first Christmas in Bethlehem? Mary, exhausted from her journey and childbirth, used her hands to wrap her baby in swaddling clothes and place Him in the animals’ feeding trough. Her hands nurtured and comforted the Child King.
Tender hands caring for a newborn.
Joseph must have worked with muscular and scarred hands as he was a carpenter by trade. Perhaps he cleaned the stable of animal filth in preparation for Immanuel, and maybe he tenderly rubbed Mary’s back after the long donkey ride. In the dark of night, he guided his family to safety in Egypt.
Strong hands serving and protecting.
Frightened shepherds with staff-gripping callouses, searched for the Baby the angel described. As they bowed before the infant Messiah, surely their fingernails were mud-caked due to plucking sheep from prickly shrubs and water holes. After their visit, the sheepherders shared Scripture’s fulfillment with those they met and possibly raised worshipful hands as they announced the Savior’s birth.
Dirty hands of poor men praising God.
Later, the magi followed a star and visited Joseph’s home. In contrast to the shepherds, these sojourners’ hands, probably adorned with jewels, presented valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Generous hands of wealthy men worshipping.
What about the tiny hands of the Christ Child? Baby-soft, they were perhaps dimpled when He gripped His mother’s fingers. In adulthood, the hands of Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11), blessed children (Matthew 19:13-15), healed a leper (Luke 5:12-13), and broke bread for the multitudes (Luke 9:16).
Holy hands showing compassion.
In Jerusalem, Jesus endured scourging (John 19:1), and then at Golgotha, nails pierced His hands and affixed them to the cruel cross. Thus, in love, the submitted hands of the Son fulfilled the Father’s mission (Luke 22:42, John 6:38-40). Now He resides at the right hand of God in heaven (Mark 16:19).
Suffering Servant’s hands giving His life.
Jesus teaches, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NKJV), and “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (John 15:16 NKJV). How can our hands serve as instruments of God’s love?
As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let’s ponder how God is calling us to serve Him this Christmas and in the coming days. Joy fills our hearts when we use our hands to honor Jesus and serve others.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands for us;
yes, establish the work of our hands.Psalm 90:17 NKJV
Please share examples of “loving Christmas hands” you’ve observed or ideas for using our hands to honor God and serve others.
Events about the birth of Jesus are from Luke 2 and Matthew 2.
This post is adapted from my article in Refresh Bible Study Magazine, Dec. 2017.
18 thoughts on “The Loving Hands of Christmas”
OMGoodness. I can’t things of anything that could match the wonderful examples of loving-kindness your family has shown through the years. I suspect your children and grandchildren can share many of those same traits they’ve observed in you ma’am. Your post did take me back to the years of watching mama in the kitchen making holiday meal preparations. She would sing and dance around; full of joy as she cared for her family. Even when things were tough, mama’s joy remained steadfast. She always taught us that joy was not dependent upon circumstances because it comes from God. Merry CHRISTmas my friend. Thank you for sharing those precious memories with us.
J. D., thank you for reminding us that that joy is not “dependent upon circumstances because it comes from God.” I know Christmas at your house was joyful with your mom singing and dancing as she prepared. Merry Christmas to you and your wife.
Beautiful illustrations that are very thought-provoking! Thank you, Jeannie! May our hands find new ways to serve this Christmas.
Thank you, Glenda. I’m glad you enjoyed the illustrations. Like you, I’m praying for ways to serve.
Jeannie, this is beautiful! When you described your grandmother, I thought of mine too-making our ethnic Christmas cookies. But one thought that also came was the white envelope marked with each grandchild’s name that contained $2 and was a generous gesture back then. I still have one in a scrapbook. I wonder what kids today would think of such a gift. It came from hard working and loving hands and a big heart. I loved each of your examples, but most of all the opportunity to stop and think back over sixty years ago of the treasures I had. Blessings to you this season.
Marilyn, I love your recollection of $2.00 in the envelope. We all need to remember our treasures. Blessings to you, as well.
Jeannie once again I am blessed. Your grandmother picking up pecans brought a sweet memory to mind.
Knowing that you were blessed by these words and that they brought a sweet memory to mind blesses me. Thank you so much for letting me know.
Jeannie, your words always touch my heart and bring sweet memories to mind. Thank you for sharing timely messages that make us stop and reflect over our actions and service to the Lord. Merry Christmas, sweet friend and a joyous New Year.
Merry Christmas to you, Wanda. I’m encouraged when the posts are a blessing to someone. I’m thankful to the Lord for the words.
Jeannie!! This piece is precious! I love the revisions to your original draft. The imagery of hands is compelling, and you’re helping me to see Jesus and the Christmas story…and the people in my life…with fresh eyes.
Robin, thanks so much for your previous and current support. I, too, am looking with fresh eyes.
Sweet Cousin, I could see Aunt Atha picking up those pecans, and I could see her shelling them with love. My memories of your grandmother are precious to me, as I remember how much Mother loved her older sister and so enjoyed her visits. And my memories of your mom and dad are priceless. I’m so thankful for the legacy you and I share. Big shoes to fill, and you do it so well. I’m so proud of you. This is one of my favorite articles yet.
Evelyn, your comments mean a lot to me. Yes, we have a rich heritage and examples of service to others in the Lord’s name. I’m thankful that when I wrote the original article the Lord showed me this perspective of Christmas.
I am thankful for the working hands of policemen, hospital staff, and other people who work on holidays. Including those people who will be working at retail stores and restaurants on Christmas day. More businesses are open on Thanksgiving and Christmas now.
Robin, thank you for reminding us of these important people. Where would we be without them? I will add them to my prayer list. I appreciate your comments.
Such sweet remembrances, Jeannie, and what lovely pictures you paint with your words. I, too, had a granny who loved through her simple expressions of service. I love how you connected earthly hands to the hands that took the nails in our place on Calvary. What a privilege to be served by THOSE hands. Praise God!
Lori, it is indeed a privilege to be served by the hands of Christ. From your comment, your granny must have known the honor of serving others as God leads. Thank you so much for sharing.