Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
We were all amazed.
An impoverished teenage girl, now the strongest, most powerful woman in the world, had just given birth to the greatest of kings: the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. But right now, He was just a baby, tiny, wrinkled and red, with that little cry you only hear on newborns because they have such itty-bitty lungs. He'd traveled through 42 generations, a descendant, according to Matthew, of some other strong but broken women; Bathsheba, an adulterous, was one of his grandmothers from way back, and so was Rahab, a whore who knew how to do what she had to do. Don't get me started on His grandfather from way back, David. And don't you just love God for letting Him come through broken people?
And God Himself was His Daddy, who He'd teach us to call Abba.
And that girl, the new mother, that lovely, amazing girl, Mary? She was the world's first Christian, having received Him as Savior in a more personal way than any of us ever would. Now He lie suckling her breast. My God! She was feeding God with her sweet mother milk.
I couldn't help but think of the Word. Isaiah, my favorite prophet. I even remembered it in King James Version, because that's how I learned it.
Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground.
Who has believed our report? Certainly the shepherds did. After His birth they regaled us with the stories of how those angels nearly scared them out of their heads.
"We were just watching the flocks like we always do?"
"Then we see this light. Huge light! We thought we were toast."
"And then this big angel__"
"We didn't know it was an angel at first."
"I knew it."
"You did not!"
"Anyway, the angel said, 'Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
You got the feeling listening to them that there was a big party in Heaven because God was so very happy to give Himself to us this way.
The virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. And of course, we all know, Immanuel means, "God with us." That was the point. God was with us now, and He'd stay with us in one way or another. The One who spoke light and universes, and breathed His own breath into dust to give it life! He was a tiny bundle of God/humanity now in His mama's arms.
I know, the prophet Isaiah said that the tender shoot emerging from dry ground would have no comeliness or beauty when we saw Him, but honestly, He was adorable. Blinking His eyes at the world and people He'd created once upon a time. Stretching forth his tiny arm and wrapping the fingers of that miniature hand of His around our fingers.
His mother was generous enough to let us all hold Him, and we all did, all of us gathered. Some of us laughed with infectious joy. Others of us wept. That's how it is with Him: joy and sorrow preceding unfathomable crosses to bear sooner than we wanted to believe. But tonight, good news! Tonight, glad tidings and peace.
After we'd all held, cuddled, and kissed Him we handed Him back, and the Blessed one among women lay him in a manger. I thought, imagine that. He's in that thing you put food for the animals in. And ain't that a rockin' metaphor? for one day, He'd be bread to us, and not only that, He'd be the bread and the wine--a holy meal in and of Himself. We'd bless Him, break Him, and partake of Him-all of us, and He'd be good, good, good. He would erase all our other hungers. He would intoxicate us with the succor of His red, flowing Life-blood, and we'd never thirst again.
Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to all men!
We were all amazed.
Later, the man with the long gray hair and beard, Melchior, would come and bring Him gold, for the mocking sign of shame above His head, "King of the Jews." And we would crown Him with thorns.
Lord, have mercy.
And the bearded, ruddy man, Casper, would come bearing frankincense. I can almost catch the scent of it now, in that dark, damp stable, sweet like prayers ascending to heaven, prayers like the Psalms He would cry out one awful day to His Father at His darkest hour:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
And later, we would come to understand the stunning beauty of that prayer, but much later, Thank God.
Balthazar, the darker brotha, would give God incarnate myrrh, to sooth his wounds and prepare him for the death he would undergo, but he and his friends hadn't arrived yet. They were still following the sign in the sky for now, as it moved from the East to Jerusalem, in a very unstar-like pattern.
But tonight, a simple gathering of watchers turned witnesses. Tonight, a Virgin, and honorable man, and a tiny, helpless God. Shepherds, angels, and us. Tonight glad tidings and singing songs.
"In Bethlehem is born the Holy Child,
On hay and straw in winter wild;
O, my heart is full of mirth,
At Jesus birth."
And He would never leave us or forsake us, no matter how big our crosses to come.
We sang, and sang, and sang.
Peace on earth, and good will toward men. Glory to God, in the highest. And the angels sang with us.