For me, one of the most moving songs about the Nativity of Our Lord was popularized in 1955 when Mahalia Jackson recorded a song by Robert MacGimsey called Sweet Little Jesus Boy.
Sweet little Jesus Boy --
They made you be born in a manger.
Sweet little Holy Child --
Didn’t know who You was.
Didn’t know You’d come to save us, Lord;
To take our sins away.
Our eyes was blind, we couldn’t see,
We didn’t know who you was.
We didn’t know who he was then. I’m not so sure we know who this babe born in Bethlehem is even today. It is hard to get past the cute, cuddly, needy, crying child that begs to be held and needs us to care. It is hard to see more than ourselves in that manger – one more human that needs to be fed and clothed, raised in a loving home – just like we were. It is hard to see past the humanity of Jesus, surrounded by the idealized setting of the manger.
While this baby Jesus is fully human, just like every other baby born in the world, this baby Jesus is also fully divine – God with Us (Matthew 1:23). In a mind-blowing way, the manger that holds the baby boy also holds the very foundation of all that is and all that shall be. The writer of Hebrews says it this way: “He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
The Gospel of John looks to that manger and sees that in Jesus “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
It makes me wonder if when the shepherds looked deeply into the eyes of this baby, they could see all the stars of heaven and the light of the sun reflected there. It makes me wonder whether the baby’s cry contained the overtones of the thunder and the rush of wind and water of creation. It makes me wonder if the encounter with the little tike searching for mama’s breast enveloped all those present with the love that binds the universe together.
There in the manger God is found – all of God, all of existence, all of life, all the love that pours out from the divine heart. Even more, I wonder if the light of every star reflected in the eyes of Jesus is a revelation of the divine light that dwells in me at his command.
May you encounter the depth of God in Christ and in you this Christmas. May you wonder over the birth of God in our midst. May you, with the awe-struck words of a hymn from the 4-5th century, be overwhelmed by the divine love revealed in Jesus.
Of the Father's love begotten
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore.
This is he whom seers in old time
chanted of with one accord,
whom the voices of the prophets
promised in their faithful word;
now he shines, the long-expected;
let creation praise its Lord
evermore and evermore.
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor