I have two strong images of God's hands. A friend once said to me that God could hold me in the palm of his hands. I envisioned large, strong, yet gentle hands cupped together, and me curled up asleep in them. At church, the ministers say that God has enscribed our names on the palms of her hands. Again the image is of big hands, hands big enough to contain all our names. So when Alessia brought home this project from preschool, I just sat for a moment and stared at it. Here was God as a tiny baby, a baby so tiny that he could be cradled in the palm of my 5-year-old's hand.
Last week I was teaching Godly Play, our church school program. After my Advent story, one of the girls asked if she could work with the desert box, a large box of sand on wheels that we use to tell Old Testament stories about God's people. I asked her to pick something else this week. She and a friend decided to work with the Advent story. They rolled out the fabric used in the story, a long of strip of purple for the Sundays of Advent, and then at the end a flash of white, for Christmas. "Look! The desert!" That thought has been stirring in my head all week.
When we teach with the desert box, we tell the kids that "the desert is a dangerous place. People don't go into the desert unless they have to." It is interesting to think of Christmas day as a dangerous desert that Mary and Joseph and Christ entered into, because they had to. We also tell the kids that God calls people, like Abraham, into the desert. Perhaps Christmas day is a dangerous desert that God is calling us into as well?