And so there the world’s wondrous new babe was born. And Mary wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him tenderly in a little improvised cradle of fresh straw in the manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And over all broods a wondrous unseen Presence, strengthening, soothing, smoothing, comforting—a wondrous Presence that. And all is still. The world’s lights were all out. It lay asleep, doubly asleep, all unsuspecting the world-event of the night. So does the world in its small, self-satisfied wisdom sleep while God’s events are taking place.
But the stillness was not for long. The upper world is awake. Heaven is always bending down in brooding concern over the old earth. This means much to the upper- world folks. The stupidity of earth may shut its eyes to the real things. But heaven’s heart is awake and alert.
Just over that softly rounded hill yonder you see a little group of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. They are asleep or half asleep. But now they are gently startled to see a wondrous glow of soft light about them.
What is this? And they rub their blinking eyes. Not moonlight that, nor starlight; something quite different. And now as their eyes get used a little to this new sort of light they see some one standing like a man, but with a glorious appearance unlike any man they ever saw.
And there came to them that sense of dread that men always seem to feel when a touch of heaven comes. And then this wondrous man of glory speaks quietly :
“Be not afraid; for beholdI bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
“And this is the sign unto you; ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger .”
And as the shepherds listen with astonished staring eyes and open months, they are startled yet more with a great outburst of rapturous singing. And they see a great company of bright angel beings standing round about this one who has been speaking to them.
It is they who are singing. And the refrain of their song comes clear and distinct on the night air:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And the shepherds listen and look. And the company of angels move up and away singing as they go.
And as quickly as they can recover themselves the shepherds hasten in by the nearest road to town, and go inquiring about till at last they come to the inn, and then find the manger and the babe just as the angel had said.
Their coming has aroused the inn, and as the people come crowding out they tell of the happenings of the night, the angel message, and the wonderful singing, and the story of the wondrous light, until the whole town is astir and talking.
And the babe’s mother listens. She understands. It fits in perfectly with all she knows. And she broods in her heart over these great things that are come to pass, and sings a bit of her joyous song as she cares for her precious babe.
Meanwhile as the day wore on something was happening over the hills yonder to the north in Jerusalem. Three distinguished looking strangers came riding into the city on their solemn camels. They wear strange garb. Evidently they came from some far country and are persons of note. They ask their way to the chief of the city and nation.
And their question startles every one: “Where is He who is born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and are come to do Him homage.”
And all the city is set agog, from Roman palace to chief priest’s palace, and everywhere else. And to the Roman ruler’s inquiry the chief priests of the nations point to Bethlehem as the place foretold in their writings.
Thither now these three travelers from a far country turn their steps. And when they find the babe they fall down and do Him homage, and offer rare gifts of the treasured things of their country.
And all the people wonder and talk. And Mary sings again a bit of her holy hymn with a new hush of joy in her heart, as she cares for the creature needs of her holy babe.
IS it not a winsome Christmas story? this first one? And as one reads it anew, with the Christmas time drawing near, once again like a refrain of sweet music come the words from out the old pages of Isaiah: “Unto us a babe is born.”
Aye, unto us. Out from the presence of God, into the sacred womb of a pure virgin, and so into the life of our race, this babe came unto us.
He is ours, this babe. He is our heir leading us into all the heritage that is ours by divine gift. He is our link back to God, and forward to the new future, the real life that is ours. Unto us is this new-born babe come.
A babe includes all of both family lines. It is more than either line, for it is all of both. So in this new-born babe there comes to be a new lineal union.
All of God is in Him. And all there is of man, true man unhurt by the hurt of sin, is in Him. All the real humanity, the purity, the strength, the gentleness, and sympathetic touch that belongs to our humanity, is in Him.
All of our hope lies in Him, the taking possession of the racial heritage lies in this new-born babe, our heir. He is indeed a new-born babe, the new-born babe. The newness of purity and strength and of realizing all that is ours comes in this birth.
And how simply and fully and naturally this new-born babe touches all our human life. And in touching it how He enriches life. He uncovers to us the riches that are there. And He leads to new riches that He puts there for us.
Run through the story again as we have it here, and note the rare humanness of the doorway through which He came.
There is modest womanhood with all its winsome fineness of texture. There is gentle wifehood with all its sacredness of faithful relation. There is the never ceasing wonder of motherhood with its holiest obligations and privileges.
And there is human friendship in its highest setting, with all its rarest opportunities. And there the unceasing wonder of all miracles—babyhood in the likeness of those begetting the babe.
And there is the one sacred word that sums up all this, the word home, with its true atmosphere of pure strong unquestioning love.
What a doorway it was through which this new-born babe of God, and of the race, came “unto us.”
In Eden God stooped down and breathed upon the dust of the earth, and man came and took on God’s image and came to his full life.
In Nazareth-Bethlehem God stooped and breathed again that creative breath upon a woman, and forth came a new Man, who will yet lead the race into its full life.
Yes, the shadows are there. It is a part of life as life actually is. The shadows crept into Eden, and darkened out over all life. They crept into Nazareth and Bethlehem and thickened and darkened over the life of the babe bom there till at length the clouds broke in storm.
And then, breaking out through the storm, the new light came. A new-born light came in as the life of this new-born babe at its maturity went out
And that light shines out over land and sea. And it will shine more and more till the noontide brightness shall yet come to all our earth. For that new-born Man is the world’s Saviour, and ours.
Is it not a winsome story, this Christmas story? And, better than winsome, it is true, both in the story of the past and in the story it holds for the coming days.
But we get its real rare winsomeness only as we let it tell itself out to us in the syllables of life. We may make room within for the new-born Life of Bethlehem and Calvary and the Third Morning. Then we shall know the sweet music of Mary’s wondrous song.
And the more room the more life and the more music.