But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19 NIV)

What if Mary, the mother of Jesus, had known the entire course of her son’s life at the moment of his birth?  What if she knew that his life and ministry would spark a religious conflict in Jerusalem resulting in his execution?  What if she could grasp the prophetess Anna’s words, “and a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35b NIV)?  What if she could see the glory of Jesus’s resurrection, the promise of eternal life, even as he lay in her arms as a newborn?

A nineteenth century Anglican priest, Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, wrote a poem later used as the text for a choral work (entitled “Sing Lullaby”) that Tara and I sang this season.  I invite you to enter into Mary’s world and imagine her singing this song with full knowledge of Jesus’s future.

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby baby, now reclining, sing lullaby!
Hush, do not wake the Infant King;
Angels are watching, stars are shining
over the place where he is lying.
Sing lullaby!

The scene is idyllic and peaceful, just as we imagine it from reading Luke 2 and Matthew 1.  All the heavenly bodies, stars and angels alike, stand silently in awe of what has just happened:  a child has been born who is King of the universe, Lord of all creation, the fullness of God in bodily form.  The angels will sing “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” but not while the baby is sleeping…

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby baby, now a-sleeping, sing lullaby!
Hush, do not wake the Infant King;
Soon will come sorrow with the morning,
soon will come bitter grief and weeping:
Sing lullaby!

Any parent knows that peaceful times with a newborn child are priceless.  While the child is sleeping, mother and father have a chance to rest as well.  Soon enough, the baby will awake and the work will begin again.  But Mary sees something coming in the morning that brings tears to her eyes…

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby baby, now a-dozing, sing lullaby!
Hush, do not wake the Infant King;
Soon comes the cross, the nails, the piercing;
Then in the grave at last reposing:
Sing lullaby!

Any parent who has outlived a child knows that the span of the child’s life is far too short.  Jesus rests quietly in his mother’s arms now as a baby; soon, too soon, he will be laid to rest in a stone-cold tomb.  But this will not be a sudden, unexpected death:  it will be a painful, grievous execution.  Mary will watch this happen with her own eyes (John 19:26-27).  Mary would give anything to freeze time, to allow her firstborn son to rest peacefully as an infant rather than subject him to his cruel end…

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby!  Is the babe awaking?  Sing lullaby!
Hush, do not wake the Infant King;
Soon will come Easter, gladsome morning,
Conquering Death, its bondage breaking:
Sing lullaby!

It is almost instinctive for parents to do whatever they can to help their children sleep through the night.  Mary encourages her child to sleep soundly; morning will come soon enough.  Indeed, she will soon celebrate That Morning, the one that completes the meaning of This Night, the one in which her son, the Author of Life, conquers Death itself.  No longer will people have to face death without hope of eternal life.  No longer will people have to hope that their animal sacrifices will appease God’s wrath, for the Living Sacrifice will secure the promise of forgiveness and restoration.  God’s perfect example of Love and Friendship through the cross is forever connected to God’s perfect example of Victory and Hope through the empty tomb.

Mary sings “lullaby” softly to her son.  This difficult journey will be worth every step, for God is indeed with her…

Pastor David

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