What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
(Isaiah 53 and What Child is This)
I was listening to this song on the radio this morning (What Child is This) and two things struck me: 1. The irony and sadness of the honor Jesus deserved and the honor we actually paid Him and 2. Mary's response as a mother to Jesus' crucifixion (that we don't know much about it).
My baby, June, has been sick the last few weeks with a cold and an ear infection. I've had lots of time to hold her at night and rock her and also to think and pray about her future (after I finally remember in my sleepy state that Allen is working and will not be getting up with her as he usually does!). It's in the moments when my children seem the most innocent and helpless that I sometimes look with fear into the future. I won't be able to protect them forever. Lord, please keep them from pain and suffering and harm.
But, in my heart of hearts I know He won't. Whom of us has been spared any pain or suffering or harm? Whom of us hasn't had our hearts broken, ignored, or "held in low esteem." If we are honest, we all have been hurt and harmed by other people, whether intentional or unintentional. It is the sad state of our hearts. We all have been tainted by sin and we feel the effects of that.
So, once I admit that my children have and will inevitably experience pain and suffering and some degree of hurt I wonder what I should pray next? I can't protect them forever. I couldn't keep Joseph with us forever or keep cancer from ravaging his beautiful life. Just the thought of it is too much to bear.
Where do we go with this unspeakable fear and sadness? As a mother, how do we fearlessly entrust our children to God's hands, knowing full well it won't be a bed of roses? How did Mary accept the beautiful gift of being the mother of God, knowing His life would be full of rejection and pain and that He would be taken from her and crucified on a cross?
I have looked through the Bible and I just can't find much about Mary in Jesus' later life (I am no Bible scholar, so if I'm missing it please let me know) or how she responded to His crucifixion. But I can imagine the intense pain, horror, outrage and anger. This child, this perfect son, whom she nursed and held and raised, treated as a lowly criminal and killed publicly for all to see. With no honor or respect or glory. The King of kings and Lord of lords, her own son.
The only thing I can think of is that she knew He was God's Son first. That yes, He was her son, entrusted to her for a short while, but ultimately His purposes were so vastly beyond just the short while she had Him in her home.
I know it is not really accurate to compare our own children to Jesus, because He is the Savior of the world and our children are not, but I think the idea still applies. That our children are gifts given to us for a short while, but their purposes and lives are God's and He is trustworthy to keep them safe. And not safe as we imagine safe, but safe in His love and safe for eternity in His hands. That Emmanuel, God with us, applies to all of us. Even in loneliness, sadness, and fear, God is with us. In the midst of a sinful, painful, fallen world, the beauty of Jesus can shine into our hearts. He is with us if we confess our need and open our hearts to His forgiveness and grace.
This Christmas season, (and every Christmas season) I find myself distracted by buying gifts, getting to the post office, checking everything off my "to do" list to be "prepared" for the big day. I am not focused on Jesus and I truly feel my heart "is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." But the Good News is that we do have a beautiful Savior who sacrificed for us and lived a perfect life in our place (by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.).
In our busyness and distraction He still calls to us. He is Emmanuel, God with us. May He be with you and me this Christmas season.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 9:36 AM