I guess we could all come up with a list of well-known medical pioneers if asked, even if it meant getting a little help from Google.  But I wonder how many of us would think of including Dr Evan O’Neill Kane. To be truthful I’d never heard of him until a few years when I came upon his story in a book looking at the life of Jesus. But as they say once read never forgotten,

Kane, who was born in 1861, grew up in Kane Pennsylvania, a town that had been founded by his father. It seems that he was a great believer in the use of general anaesthesia only when there was no choice, preferring to use local anaesthetic whenever possible. Now I have no idea how difficult it was to find patients who were willing to trust his judgment, but I do know he did find one who was willing to have his appendix removed in that way: his name was Evan O’Neil Kane!  Yes, the doctor became a patient to show his care for them.  

Finding illustrations to help people understand the incarnation is never an easy task. How can we ever explain the Christian claim that an all-powerful God became a human being? The well-known song writer Michael Card summed it very neatly, he wrote ‘When the Father longed to show a love He wanted us to know He sent His only Son and so became a holy embryo’ noting that if this was the case then Mary became ‘a mother’ who had been ‘made by her own child’.

But this is both the mystery and the wonder of Christmas Day. As the apostle John says in his gospel ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being’, and yet that eternal ‘Word’ voluntarily chose to become an ordinary human being. As a child he wore the first century equivalent of nappies and as an adult he cried at the death of a close friend. 

Christmas Day then is proof of God’s love. It shows us that He will go to any length to regain our friendship and to welcome us back into His family. But Christmas Day brings its challenges too because it asserts that we were created to be like Jesus. He was the great reconciler and the determined peacemaker. He forgave, he encouraged, and he gave everyone a warm welcome because He hoped they would change if they spent time with Him.

As a child He knew what it was to be an asylum seeker and as an adult He was spurned, vilified and ultimately put to death. But in spite of this He was committed to the welfare of others because He wanted to be serving the God whose nature can be summed up in the word love.

Few if any of us will ever be capable of removing an appendix, but with God’s help, we can all reach out to others with acts of loving kindness, even to those who have hurt or rejected us, and in so doing realise our God given potential.

Before I draw to a close I really would like take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and to thank you for taking the time to read my simple musings. Oh, and lest I forget a huge thank you to the editor and his staff for allowing me to share them with you too. I don’t take it for granted.

What do you think? Send a letter to the editor: [email protected]