A People of Love: Away in a Manger

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head
The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes
I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
'Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray
Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Revelation 21:3-4

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

At first glance the sweet natured lyric of ‘Away in a Manger’ seems overly sentimental. But if we dig a little deeper we can ask the question: what is this song trying to express? I think that the song’s rosy-eyed depiction of Jesus birth reveals something we all want — for everything to be okay. We want all to be well. We want our kids to stop crying, the house to be tidy and our lives to be in order. Jesus’ birth heralds the beginning of God’s Kingdom’s reign on this earth. This is a Kingdom that will culminate in all being well and everything being resolved. That doesn’t mean we approach the world with a phoney optimism. We can however choose to commit ourselves to holding on to the hope of the Kingdom.