We will look next at the role played by the heavens (the heavenly bodies or the stars, and the heavenly beings or the angels) and then finally at the role played by the buildings (the inn versus the stable). I am satisfied that each of these entities speaks some truths to us regarding the birth of our Savior.
Yesterday, I referenced a popular Christmas song first recorded by Burl Ives back in 1957. Many artists, including Art Garfunkel, Amy Grant, Garth Brooks, and Peter, Paul & Mary, among others, have since covered it. It is a traditional English Christmas Carol titled The Friendly Beasts, and dates from the thirteenth century. Thus, over 800 years ago back in the Middle Ages, Christians first sang this simple song.
It reveals just how carefully they had thought through the role of animals in the Christmas story. It has all of the animals in turn telling of what they contributed to the birth of the Savior…
Jesus our brother, kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable rude
And the friendly beasts around Him stood
Jesus our brother, kind and good.
"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
"I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town."
"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown.
"I," said the cow, all white and red
"I gave Him my manger for a bed;
I gave Him my hay to pillow His head."
"I," said the cow, all white and red.
"I," said the sheep with curly horn,
"I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn."
"I," said the sheep with curly horn.
"I," said the dove from the rafters high,
"Cooed Him to sleep that He should not cry;
We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I."
"I," said the dove from the rafters high.
"I," said the camel, yellow and black,
"Over the desert, upon my back,
I brought Him a gift in the Wise Men's pack."
"I," said the camel, yellow and black.
Thus every beast by some good spell
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Emmanuel,
The gift he gave Emmanuel.
Sort of makes one ask the question: “What would I have contributed had I been there?” More to the point, it compels one to ask the question: “What can I contribute to this Christmas season?” “How can I benefit the cause of my Savior this Christmas?” “How can I further the purposes of the Kingdom of God on earth this Christmas?”
I hope you will find ways to answer these questions for yourself. Otherwise, your own Christmas this year may not be nearly as full as God intends for it to be.