Say something that sounds an awful lot like,
"What a beautiful baby! You are a special little (boy or girl) and I know that you're going to bring joy to your parents. Congratulations all of you! What a wonderful little baby."
It doesn’t have to be exactly that, but it had better be something very nice and very supportive and very positive about the baby.
Nobody is ever to say,
"What a little shriveled runt! You wonder how something so ugly will ever fit in with the rest of us. Can you imagine if everyone looked like that? What a terrible world we'd live in!"
This etiquette lesson is not at all new. Folks have been making "beautiful baby" comments since before . . . almost anything. I know that sometimes people ignore the lesson, but the life rule still applies. So in this week's Bible reading from Luke 2:22-40, the reaction of the two people who saw Jesus when his parents brought him to the temple in Jerusalem isn’t all that surprising.
Simeon was just 'moseying' around town and he had a Holy Spirit nudge to go to the Temple. Anna hung out in the Temple all the time. Both of them got to see a very young Jesus. And both of them followed the beautiful baby (or was he a toddler now?) rule. Maybe they went a bit overboard.
Simeon: "My God, my God! I can die happy now because I've seen this baby! I've seen God's salvation in this one. He's going to really make a difference in the world. Bless you, Mary and Joseph! Your baby is going to make some very happy -- others not so happy. He's going to cause quite a stir -- people's true nature will come out because of him. He'll make you very sad, too."
Well, most of what he said followed the rule. That "he'll make you sad" part went a bit outside the rules, I think.
Anna: "This is the baby! Everyone, look at this baby! Can't you see it -- he's the one who is going to change everything -- he's the one we're all waiting for!"
OK -- perhaps that one goes a little far in the "wonderful baby" department. I don't think Anna or Simeon would flower things up that much for every baby they saw in the temple. They might say some really nice things, but probably not something that 'praising.'
What do you say when you visit a new baby? What do you think you’d have said if you were in Simeon or Anna's shoes?