The Christmas carol, Away in a Manger was the first Christmas song I learned. I recall being dressed up as a shepherd in a Christmas play at Greenmeadow Baptist Church in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. I was a happening little shepherd that was singing Away in a Manger in my pre-pubescent voice. While I have an old Polaroid with proof that this happened, I have learned that there a few things that need to stay in the old picture box.
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright 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 bedside 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
Much has been written about the old Carol, especially it’s author. But I really couldn’t care less about its author. I like to focus on two phrases.
- No Crib for a Bed. I love Christmas. I love all the things that accompany Christmas. But this little phrase is a sobering reminder that the little Lord Jesus came into this mess of human selfishness and sin without the world’s pomp and circumstance. He entered this disaster as a poor infant to poor parents, in a stable designed for ox and ass. But why? Because He didn’t need to be introduced. He came as a King like no other. He would rule a Kingdom like no other. And everybody was welcome in this Kingdom. Well, it would be available to all people. Rich – poor, happy – sad, tall – short…ALL! But He was clear. We were to believe and trust like little kids if we were to enter His Kingdom. You see, He had no crib because He owns the palace, and He chose no crib for a bed.
- Be Near Me Lord Jesus. Jesus was overwhelmingly clear on this. He would not leave you. He would never forsake you. He would care far more than you could imagine for you, your needs, your plans and your life than you could possibly imagine. He said that He was THE WAY! He said He was THE TRUTH. He said He was THE LIFE. He also said that we could have life in abundance, and life eternal. When we choose Him, He stays close by us forever and He’ll love us no matter what we do. As a matter of fact, He loves us so much that there is nothing we can do to make Him NOT LOVE US!
Next time you hear this old carol, lift these two phrases up with a bit more passion. They are there to remind us why He had no crib, and that He will always be with us!