I love the Christmas season. I love having to wrap up warm - although evidently not this year, I love Christmas carols, mince pies, good food and thinking about gifts I can make or buy people. I love a good Christmas jumper and, of course, family time. But no matter how good all those things are, for me, as a follower of Jesus, I love Christmas because I'm reminded of God’s incredible gift to me in sending Jesus.
I’m a junior doctor working with children, from premature babies to teenagers. I’m a paediatric registrar working in a busy general hospital in the south west, and since I left medical school I’ve had to work three Christmases.
Last Christmas I woke up - home alone! - put on my red work dress in an attempt to be festive and set off for work. When I got there, it was manic. Newborn babies have no idea it's Christmas, they are just chilling out in their little incubators with their token stockings hanging over the end, and unborn babies definitely don't think twice about whether Christmas Day is a good day to be born, so it was all hands on deck from the word go.
Around 15 minutes into my shift I was called to an emergency on the delivery suite. I ran down the corridor, put on my surgical blues and surgical hat and joined the obstetric team who were preparing for an emergency C-section. I went over to the mum and dad and introduced myself as the baby doctor and made my way to my corner by the baby resuscitaire. I turned on the overhead heater, made sure the equipment was all working and then waited.
A few minutes later one of the midwives handed me a little baby boy. He wasn't breathing so I dried him down, placed a mask over his mouth and nose and gave him five breaths. After what felt like a lifetime, but was actually 30 seconds or so, an almighty scream erupted form his little lungs and then his legs and arms started wriggling and he opened his eyes. I spent a few minutes with him alone as the rest of the team took care of his mum, before I had the most amazing privilege of handing him over to his parents for the first time – I love that part of my job!
I clearly remember that as I was standing with him on the resuscitaire, drying this little one down, wrapping him up and popping the little blue knitted hat on his head, thinking: "You're absolutely amazing, so tiny, so naked and so vulnerable." It was then as if God switched a light on in my head and heart as I looked down at this little new baby, and thought: "Jesus, you chose to come like this. God you chose to come as a baby, that's totally outrageous! Why?"
Just like that little boy born last Christmas Day, Jesus, my creator King and the one that John tells us at the start of his gospel is God, the one "through whom all things were made and for whom everything was made", was born into history small and naked with tiny little hands and feet and his eyes blinking as they opened for the first time.
Jesus, his birth and his life, wasn't just a gift for one family in Bethlehem, but a gift from God to be experienced and enjoyed by whoever will trust and believe in Him. His birth points me forward, for like all babies he grew up: he was born in a wooden box so that he would grow into a man and die on a wooden cross and rise from the grave to save me from the consequences my rebellion and rejection of God. He came to die so that through his death I could be forgiven and the relationship with God, our loving creator, might be restored, that we might truly live and enjoy life with him both now and life after death.
And that's what I love most about Christmas: that I'm reminded of the amazing love God has for this world and that His son was born to rescue me.