It is Christmas week! I hope you had an amazing Christmas, surrounded by those you love and who love (or at least tolerate) you. It has been an amazing Christmas season at Covenant Grove. Lives are being transformed by Christ! We started a Third Service, and all three services are growing. People stepped up to serve in stronger ways, and the Lord continues to send people to our church family to be loved and grown with His truth. I can’t wait to see where Jesus leads us in 2018!
Today I wanted to write briefly about the Christmas carol “Away in a Manger.” I love this song, the lyrics and the music. This song has many different melodies and ways to be played musically. The authors of the different verses are unknown. The first two verses appeared, in German but seemingly translated from English, in the 1885 hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran of North America. There are also many different little variations to the lyrics. An example is in the line “the stars in the sky look down where He lay.” This is the only line with 10 syllables (the rest have 11), and many have changed “sky” to “bright sky” or “heaven” to resolve the missing syllable. Some people get frustrated by these variations, but I delight in them; I love seeing how creative humans are, especially in worship.
The meaning of the song is pretty simple. Jesus had no crib, but He still slept on the hay. He is then awoken by the cattle making noise. Now, the song says He did not cry, but the Bible never makes that claim. I think if a baby is woken up by a cow touching his or her head, there will be crying involved! Nevertheless, the next lines are amazing – a baby’s prayer, asking Jesus to look down from the sky. This is a contrast to verse 1 where the stars are looking down on Jesus; in verse 2, Jesus is looking down on every child; He loves every one. The prayer is that Jesus would stay near us through the night. Verse 3 continues the prayer: stay by me Jesus, not only as a child but forever; bless me and all the children and take us to heaven so we can live with You, the One we love and who loves us.
Away in a Manger reminds me of the wonder of Christmas. God Himself came and was born as a baby. This changes the way I look at every baby. It also reminds me that I was a baby once, just like Him. He understands me; I can’t even understand how much He understands me! Compared to His wisdom and majesty, I am still an infant. Yet – because He loves me – that is alright. Like a baby, I don’t have to have it all figured out; I just need to cry out for the love of my Father who will never let me go.