|Mother and Child, by Renoir|
Unto us a child is born!
The scene is beautiful, yet none of the words that were spoken are recorded. After hearing Mary’s prophetic proclamation last Sunday, we know the birth of Jesus was not wrapped in silence, but that there was joy and exclamations and murmured words of wonder. The silent night will come later, as they sink into an exhausted sleep.
This is the birth of the Messiah, one who was born not just to his mother but to all of us. He comes wrapped in light and hope as his swaddling-clothes, yet born among the animals, among the hay and straw. Just when the night was longest, he comes trailing light and wonder behind him. A new dawn has come with his birth.
Yet there is also singing: Hosts of angels joining together in a chorus of praise and exultation, dancing and whirling over the heads of those shepherds, who see a glimpse of the heavenly host through a crack in the canopy between heaven and Earth, between time and eternity. And they are driven by their amazement from the hills to the little house where Jesus and his family rested on the bottom floor, among the cattle and cut rushes that line the floor.
All because of this child, who was born at the time we need him most. Although we have been plunged in darkness for so long, he will reflect light and joy upon the entire earth.
He will be God With Us, Emmanuel, born among the humble to scatter the proud and turn the powerful toward justice. Isaiah’s words confirm that he will be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” who will guide us into a kingdom ordered by justice and righteousness. He opens his eyes, is embraced and kissed, is held close upon the breast of his mother, wrapped in awe and expectation, with whispered promises of love and hope whispered into his ears. Perhaps he is like that baby described in Paul Simon’s “Born at the Right Time:”
Down among the reeds and rushes
a baby boy was found
His eyes as clear as centuries
his silky hair was brown
Never been lonely
never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
nothing denied to
Born at the instant
the church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
“Born at the right time.”
Born at the time we need to remember that we are people of joy, for Love Incarnate has come to live among us. Born at the time we need to remember we are people of peace, for the Prince of Peace has come to live among us. Born at the time we need to remember we are people of hope, as we sing praises to our God whose sheltering faithfulness withholds nothing from us. Through him, God embraces the entire earth, and draws us all close upon our Mother’s breast, with whispered promises of love and hope breathed into our ears.
This is indeed, the time we need Our Savior most. He turns in his blankets, opening his eyes, and laughs in recognition at the angels dancing overhead, who sing just for him, born at the right time.