Prince Charles and Christmas

Did you see that hastily snapped picture of Prince Charles and Camilla? On their way last Thursday evening to a London gala, the royal couple’s vintage Rolls Royce limousine inadvertently drove into an unrelated street riot and was suddenly engulfed by a sea of demonstrating youth. When the young rioters (who were protesting Parliament’s decision to hike tuition fees in UK universities) spotted the future king of England and his wife inside the automobile, they turned on the limousine, pelting it with eggs, smashing open a window and threatening to who-knows-what! The prince pushed his wife to the floor of the car to shield her. And their driver fortunately was able to flee the scene. The royals, though badly shaken, arrived at the gala in gracious spirits. They don’t treat future kings like they used to, do they? Which, of course, is the sad commentary on the story of Christmas as well. The King of the universe, come to earth as the promised Messiah, couldn’t even rent a motel room for his own birth! “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.” “And she . . . laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 2:7). Deitrich Bonhoeffer once reflected, “All Christian theology has its origin in the wonder of all wonders that God became man.” Wonder of all wonders, indeed. That wonder is nearly palpable in the The Desire of Ages chapter on Christ’s birth: “The King of glory stooped low to take humanity. Rude and forbidding were His earthly surroundings. His glory was veiled, that the majesty of His outward form might not become an object of attraction. He shunned all outward display. . . . With amazement the heavenly messengers beheld the indifference of that people whom God had called to communicate to the world the light of sacred truth. . . . It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. . . . Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth!” (pp 43-49, selected) They don’t treat future kings like they used to, do they? Do we? The wonder of wonders in this season of Noel is not so much that God became a man . . . but that he even wanted to. For look how we treated him when he came to us. And is it any better today? In the words of that old spiritual, “Sweet little Jesus boy, they made you be born in a manger; sweet little holy Child, we didn’t know who you was.” But we do, don’t we? And so this Christmas will you join me in bowing low before the King—not as a perfunctory expression of Christian devotion, but rather as the quiet pledge of a redeemed vassal to gladly serve the King whose infinite sacrifice has purchased our freedom? “‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’” (Revelation 5:12). Amen.