From: Our Daily Journey
Tonight as I sit here writing, one of our family dogs lays curled up on the ottoman at my feet. I’m his favorite of all our family members, though—in truth—it probably has something to do with my keeping his food bowl full! Seymour loves to be outside, but his preferred activity is to rest all seventy-five pounds of his sweet self on my lap. On especially busy days, he remains near me, patiently waiting until I sit down.
It can be hard to find rest and peace during these busy days. Whether driven by internal or external expectations, we’re carried downstream by our fast-paced culture. Even the Christmas holidays can become little more than a checklist of tasks and events. But if we were to look back on a quiet night in Bethlehem, what would we discover?
The piercing light and sound of angelic voices broke into the still, night air, causing the shepherds to initially be afraid (Luke 2:9-10). As the angels’ exclamations and expressions of worship settled into their hearts, however, the shepherds became alert to a divine presence. Their feet “hurried to the village” as their hearts chose to make God’s timeline more important than their own (Luke 2:16). How ironic that in their urgency to make God’s activity their priority, they found true rest. They enjoyed the moment, and in doing so, God in all His glory became the center of their speech, the center of their world (Luke 2:17,20).
Like the shepherds, Mary knew she was living in the miraculous (Luke 2:19). To what extent, she could only imagine, but she rested in knowing that God was weaving together what couldn’t yet be understood. May we seek to find the same wonder and rest in believing “the Lord [will] do what he said” (Luke 1:45).
Away in a Manger
By: Kenneth W. Osbeck
The shepherds had an angel
The wise men had a star
But what have I, a little child,
To guide me home from far,
Where glad stars sing together
And singing angels are?
Christ watches me, His little lamb,
Cares for me day and night,
That I may be His own in heaven;
So angels clad in white
Shall sing their “Glory, glory,”
For my sake in the height.
-Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
No Christmas song is more loved than this tender children’s carol, “Away in a Manger.” With its simply worded expression of love for the Lord Jesus and trust in His faithful care, the hymn appeals to young and old alike. It is usually one of the first Christmas songs learned in early childhood; yet its pleasing melody and gentle message preserve it in our affections all through life.
For some time “Away in the Manger” was titled “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.” It was thought to have been written by Martin Luther for his own children and then passed on by German mothers. Modern research discounts this claim, however. Stanzas one and two first appeared in the Little Children’s Book, published in Philadelphia in 1885. The third verse was written by a Methodist minister, John T. McFarland, in the early 1900s when an additional stanza for this carol was desired for use at a church children’s day program.
How important it is that we take time to help our children see beyond the glitter of the Christmas season and teach them the true meaning of Christ’s birth. The most thrilling story ever known to man began in Bethlehem at Christmas.
“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;
the stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus! look down from the sky,
and stay by my cradle till 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 fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.”
Nearer My God To You
For this our light and transitory burden of suffering is achieving for us a weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17). (Weymouth)
The question is repeatedly asked–Why is the life of man drenched with so much blood, and blistered with so many tears? The answer is to be found in the word “achieving”; these things are achieving for us something precious. They are teaching us not only the way to victory, but better still the laws of victory. There is a compensation in every sorrow, and the sorrow is working out the compensation. It is the cry of the dear old hymn:
“Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee,
E’en tho’ it be a cross that raiseth me.”
Joy sometimes needs pain to give it birth. Fanny Crosby could never have written her beautiful hymn, “I shall see Him face to face,” were it not for the fact that she had never looked upon the green fields nor the evening sunset nor the kindly twinkle in her mother’s eye. It was the loss of her own vision that helped her to gain her remarkable spiritual discernment.
It is comforting to know that sorrow tarries only for the night; it takes its leave in the morning. A thunderstorm is very brief when put alongside the long summer day. “Weeping may endure for the night but joy cometh in the morning.”
–Songs in the Night
There is a peace that cometh after sorrow,
Of hope surrendered, not of hope fulfilled;
A peace that looketh not upon tomorrow,
But calmly on a tempest that it stilled.
A peace that lives not now in joy’s excesses,
Nor in the happy life of love secure;
But in the unerring strength the heart possesses,
Of conflicts won while learning to endure.
A peace there is, in sacrifice secluded,
A life subdued, from will and passion free;
‘Tis not the peace that over Eden brooded,
But that which triumphed in Gethsemane.