Have you ever really listened to Christmas Music? What a bittersweet time for any parent who has lost a little one.
Here in the midst of Christmas Eve, the first time in our main church, I sat watching the Christmas Eve service. I couldn't help but thinking that the last time I had been here was to say goodbye to Perry. The last time I held him was here.
I felt like there had to be some message for me here. Something special in the midst of this. There were two candlelight services, and we chose the earliest. The young infants were out in mass along with many who did not normally attend church. For some I think it was almost a study in the origins of Christmas and not actually worship.
Where in this tangled service, with multiple crying infants, was my message? I zoned out some of the music, but then I felt the need to tune into a classic I had sang many times before.
Away In a Manger
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
It hit me that 'all the dear children in thy tender care', could very well mean all the children and infants who have died. 1885 and the surrounding era were brutal times for infants. The first part celebrates the gift of Christmas, but then is very akin to the simple "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. I think we assume that the author is talking about living children in his care the ones to be fitted for Heaven, but I think he is saying 'bless the children in your care and help us to become who we need to be to join you there." It switches from them to us terminology, and I do not think this is chance.
So here is my message. Here is where my child is. He is not left out. He has already received his Christmas gift.
This season is as much for parents who are missing a child as it is for the children around us, if not more. Who could comfort a parent more?
I find myself looking for kindred spirits, and they are out there. Not as many in this day, so many of you are blessed by technology. I find myself getting comfort sometimes from the past, from our church family who has gone before.