When our daughter Prisca was dedicated as an infant at our church, she freely expressed her distress at being held by anyone other than her mother. Her wails, growing louder by the moment, soon filled the sanctuary and flustered the pastor. Anxious to move through the prayer of dedication, in his haste, our pastor lost his concentration and fervently dedicated God to my daughter’s care instead of the other way around! We like to think that God has been in good hands ever since! (The pastor rapidly corrected his prayer before releasing Prisca to my arms!)
In contrast, I grew up in a church where my own father served as the senior pastor. He was no stranger. I always felt like I had a special “in” because I was allowed to go up to the pastor and hug him at any time I wished. I loved rubbing my cheek against the silky fabric of his vestments. In my father’s strong arms I felt secure, content.
How did Jesus feel when Mary passed him into the arms of a stranger at the temple? In Luke 2:28, we read that Simeon took the infant Messiah in his arms and praised God. Did the child express alarm and struggle against the arms that were supporting him? Or did Jesus raise a hand to explore the rough beard of this stranger? We don’t know, but it is clear that this infant offered consolation to the adult: Here at last, after years of waiting, was the answer to Simeon’s prayers.
Today that same Jesus offers comfort to you and me. Do we struggle and fight against him as if we were being held by a stranger, or do we welcome his touch with faith and trust? Rest in those everlasting arms! In Isaiah 66:13, God offers a forever promise: “I will comfort you there as a child is comforted by his mother.”