This last week a prince was born to the House of Windsor.
A sudden intake of air, a soft gasp of delight, was heard around the world. We sighed with joy when we learned of the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis in a London hospital. Royalty comes and goes, rises and falls in public opinion, but this week all the world watched and waited for the birth, then listened for the name. We heard the melody, the song that births new life.
We do not have royalty in America, at least none that we officially recognize. We treat Hollywood stars like royalty, to be sure. And we place some politicians on pedestals that crumble all too quickly beneath them. We yearn for the royalty we do not have, so we make it up as we go along. We yearn for the kingship of God.
There must have been a similar moment of sudden delight two thousand-plus Christmases ago when kings in the East saw the magnificent star rise in the night sky, portending great things for the peoples of the earth. They too must have experienced a hushed expectancy, wonder, and joy. They sensed a right and good thing had happened, was coming among them. They followed the star to the manger-cave outside Bethlehem. There they knelt before the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Son of God.
Humanity, I believe, has an innate, if not always recognized, love of God and desire for Him, a hope that streams through our very being. So when a prince is born, even though he be royalty of human making, there is a collective sigh. The prince in the London hospital, third in line to the throne of England, recalls the true prince, the Prince of Peace.
This love of God informs our ceremonial rites of passage, times when we join man and woman in marriage, times when we celebrate birth in baptism, times when we support the family that is the protector of life and the genesis of the future, in inter-generational gatherings. And the family extends to church family which reaches out to community and country and world, the family of God.
My niece visited this last week and introduced us to her fiance. We shared their announcement with other family members, and made a special visit to my mother so that my niece could introduce her young man to her 93-year-old grandmother. Once again I heard the melody of divine purpose, repeating in a different key that song streaming from the heart of God. This man and woman will join together in public ceremony, for marriage is important to societal well-being. They will vow to love one another in sickness and in health. They will exchange rings. They will become one flesh and will welcome new life into their newly formed family. They will give to the world the next generation, just as Kate and William have given the next generation to the House of Windsor.
Of course there were wars and rumors of wars in the news this week too. Many are suffering, troubled, lost. Many do not know God, do not hear his music or his invitation to dance with him in the great dance of life. Many are alone, have chosen to cover their ears, not wanting to hear the music.
My week hovered in my mind as I gathered the children around the shiny yellow table in Sunday School this morning. The younger ones colored, and the older ones worked on memory assignments. As we worked together we talked about the Resurrection of Christ, the Prince who became our King, about God’s great love for us, sending his son to die for us. Now, as I write this, I see how it all forms a pattern, a poem, a concerto. Marriage, children, God’s stunning love song weaving through our midst. How do we hear his song? Because a woman named Mary Magdalene was witness to the risen Christ and ran to tell the others. Because the others wrote it all down and we have the words they wrote. And the words form a melody.
A child was born that Christmas night two thousand years ago. A prince was given to us. Heaven’s melody rose to full symphony with harps and strings and trumpets. The world rejoiced, the forests wept with happiness, the stars danced, the seas roared, for a royal prince was born. The prince would live, die, and live again. He would be crowned King of Kings.
Earthly kings pale to our Heavenly King, yet we respond to the birth of an earthly prince because we have known, and know, a true Heavenly Prince. God’s love song fills our hearts and minds and we give thanks for every marriage and every birth, every miraculous joining and every breath of new life.
Thanks be to God.