“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14 NIVUK)
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:6-7 NIVUK)
It’s Advent, a time when we focus on the birth of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The words of familiar readings fill our thoughts: from the majesty of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh,” to the meekness of Luke 2:7, “She…placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” We reflect on the fact that He had a royal lineage but was not recognised in the royal line. The House of Windsor begins with George V in 1911 and to date he has 6 children, 9 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and 52 great-great-grandchildren who are still living and would be included in the full line of succession. But I doubt that there’s any of us could name all 89 of them. I would suspect that there are a fair proportion of them who could claim they are in the royal lineage but realistically, will never feature in the royal line. There is no recognition. Jesus had a royal lineage but only the paranoid Herod ever saw Him as a potential successor or usurper.
We reflect on this lack of recognition. No royal residence for Jesus: He had the royal lineage but no royal residence. Charles III was born in Buckingham Palace and lived many years in Clarence House. Elizabeth II was born in Mayfair, London, at the London home of her maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, a home in the royal lineage, and was Christened at Buckingham Palace. (The building is now a rather swanky Chinese restaurant!) Her father, George VI, was born in York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate, a royal residence.
There is actually a meticulously researched webpage (mrsdaffodildigresses.wordpress.com) which details royal cradles through history. Some of them are fabulous: ivory, gold, silver and jewel-adorned; silk and velvet-draped. Famously, the Duke of Edinburgh was evacuated from Corfu in 1921 in an orange crate (www.royal.uk) But neither Mrs Daffodil nor the Royal website speak of any royal babies in mangers or in animal feeding troughs. The description of Jesus’ birth and of being placed in a manger speaks of a far less glamorous birth and of very ordinary circumstances. His birth and first resting place would have been perfectly familiar and practical in the ordinary homes of first century Palestine though.
It’s Advent, a time to welcome the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord. A King who is One among us. The King who is One of us. The King who is One for us. Part of the familiar and the practical and the routine and the ordinary.
“Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
when thou camest to earth for me;
but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for Thy holy nativity:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
there is room in my heart for Thee.”
(Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott 1836-97)