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.