On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
The above question, as simple as it may be, has puzzled countless generations of men who try desperately to redefine this season to suit their disordered need for wealth and atheistic celebrations of ‘winter’ rather than the genuine reason for this holy time. Although we may know the identity of this babe who is laid to rest in Mary’s lap, it can be beneficial for us to revisit, from time to time, the authentic purpose of Christmas. On our journey to Bethlehem we have now come to an important crossroads. Do we continue on the narrow road that is rocky and paved with sorrow and tears or do we leave the rough road and start along the wide, smooth path? This decision may be the most difficult one yet, for if we acknowledge this babe to be Who He really is then we must follow Him. We must cast off our pride and bow to a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Who then is this child?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
A sleeping child serenaded by the sweet singing of angels has captured the attention of kings and Shepherds, of C.E.O’s and of Janitors, of celebrities and butchers; this baby has turned the world against each other in the violent war of truth versus falsehood, of Good versus evil; a ‘sign of contradiction indeed. One would bow before a Kings son, laid to rest in a gold plated crib, swaddled in the richest of silk. But a baby, born of two seemingly insignificant poverty stricken parents, who hadn’t enough money to even provide proper shelter? No, no one would bow to him. Yet the heavenly song burst forth: “This is Christ the King! Hurry to bring Him Praise and Love, Jesus, the baby, the son of Mary” This child born of a virgin would redefine, in His very first moments of life outside the womb, the meaning of King. Our King is not a worldly king, demanding respect and love by impressive wealth and pomp, but a servant king who would gain our devotion by sharing our very weaknesses and trials. A King with a love so strong that he would die so we could be with Him forever; a worldly king has knights who pledge to serve him and if called to do so, give their lives for him, our King comes to serve us, and give His life as a ransom for many. Who could ever have expected a King like ours?
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Yet there he lay, on His Holy Mother’s lap, in all innocence and wonder, gazing with love on the very creatures he came to save. Mary looked deeply into the very eyes of the God-Man Who created her. She brought forth into this life the one who brought forth her soul into life as well. How Great the Mystery! How Profound the Love! There lay the Word of God, unable to speak but pleading on our behalf, to the Father in Heaven, to show mercy.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
And mercy indeed would be shown. Jesus was born to die. The shadow of the cross rested upon the manger. Calvary was looming in the distance calling out to the babe taunting Him about the meeting they shall have thirty years later. The wood which cradled the tender flesh of the babe would one day become the altar where that same flesh would be torn to pieces and sacrificed for the sins of man. Our innocence was lost, and in Christ’s infancy we can see what we should have been. Yet our God was not content with leaving us where we were. He loves us too much to bear our loss of His grace. He loves us so much He was willing to bear the loss of His life so we might one day share in His life. This is the deepest meaning of Christmas… ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son.’
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
The angels invite us to come to him, to see Him, to adore him, to OWN him. We are called this Christmas to receive Jesus, the Babe, and to take possession of the God of the entire universe. When we accept the salvation he brings to us, in all humility when we accept Him as our King, our hearts become as a manger, our love as warm clothes to wrap him in, our prayers become a sweet lullaby to lull him to sleep. The babe who lays to rest on Mary’s lap, the Christ child, God Himself, wishes to come to us, as a innocent baby, cooing and loving and desiring to be held by you, whom he loves with an eternal, divine love.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
How can we restrain ourselves from bursting into refrains of joy and praise to a God so wonderful as ours? How can we not explode with love when we see the babe smile at us while we gently rock him in our arms? How can we settle for ‘Happy Holidays’ or for Santa Clause or for material gifts that break and bore when we are given Christ Himself on this happy morn? Truly we cannot hold back any praise, we cannot have our songs remain silent, and we cannot consent to burying the electrifying prayer of ‘Merry Christmas’ under the insincere mumbling of ‘Happy Holidays’! Joy, Joy for Christ is Born, the babe the son of Mary!