Subway Prophet

…and the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls…

The Realities of Christmas


It was 5:30am and I had been up with Malachi several times that evening. He was not feeling well, which means he was not sleeping well. The only thing that would get him back to seep, and therefore quiet, was being held on my shoulder and gently swaying back and forth. It is our nightly ritual. He wakes up, I wake up, and groggily trudge into the nursery in the next room, pick him up and gently sway, pat and shush him to sleep, dreaming of the days when I was woken up by my alarm instead of the urgent cries of a baby.

On this particular night, however, I had a song stuck in my head. It was “Away in a Manger.” In case you have forgotten the lyrics:

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with thee there.

This is the image we always have of baby Jesus. Calm, peaceful and serenely sleeping in his manger. With the clean Mary and Joseph attentively watching him with awe. I am not sure about anyone else, but this has never been the case at our house. In our life with a baby there has not been a lot more vomit, crying, and restless nights.

Now perhaps if our son was God incarnate, life would be different, but I don’t think so. The fundamental truth of the incarnation is that God put on flesh and became human. This means the word became flesh, full of grace and truth as well as urine, poop, vomit, and snot.

I think this image of the infant Jesus is important. A peacefully sleeping child does not require anything of its parents. When the baby is sleeping, you have time to do your own things, when the baby is awake, however, your time is not your own. Life is dictated by the needs of this small, helpless creature. Jesus came into the world to interrupt our normal routines and habits. Jesus desires not just partial obedience, but our full attention and complete control. This will mean that our lives will be messy, our hands dirty, and at times we will feel exhausted, frustrated, and even defeated. The joy of discipleship, and in a way parenting is not in the minute by minute experiences, but in the knowledge that the child you love and serve will grow up and once day make it all worth it.

Author: subway prophet

I am a husband, father, and ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church currently appointed to Memorial UMC in Fernandina Beach, FL. I am a proud graduate of Duke Divinity School and Florida Southern College as well as member of the Wesley Study Centre and St. Johns College in Durham, UK. All posts are my own opinions at the time they are posted and I reserve the ability to change my mind and opinions as I continue to listen to the Holy Spirit and read Scripture with those around me. Thank you for being in this conversation with me!

2 thoughts on “The Realities of Christmas

  1. Wonderful ! Brought back memories to me of the time when Judy and Gary were both little at same time, and I had to chase one while holding the other one and keep them safe – Raising children is such a challenge and pleasure most of the time – Gary had colic and cried all night but was ok during the day – I lived in exhaustion until he outgrew that – He could do projectile vomiting when being burped, so learned the hard way to spread newspapers on the floor and aim him that way when patting him on the back – worked like a charm! It was like having two babies at one time –

  2. You are a good dad. A natural

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