I have loved babies, but never my own. I have held them, rocked them, changed them. I have sung lullabies, hymns, and silly made-up songs with their names in them. I have felt my hands turn to sandpaper against their smooth skin. I have nuzzled necks and played peek-a-boo. And then I have handed them back.
My babies have been mine for only a moment, an hour, an evening. The parents arrive, come home, come back. And the baby reaches out to them and leaves my arms.
It's what happens when you have no child of your own.
And, then I think of that woman, the girl, really. So young, so unworldly, so every-day. Waiting for the baby inside her to be born, the one that she would nurse and mother. And I keep thinking about how anxious she was to finally hold baby in her arms ... and how that baby came for everything our own arms are missing.
The poor get good news. The brokenhearted are mended. The captives released. The weak made strong. The shamed given honor. Take off your sad clothes and put on your party frock. Your empty arms will be filled.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers; but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.
Isaiah 61 (ESV)