The author and poet Ann Weems writes these words in her poem Against Our Better Judgment:
We told her she couldn't go;
She was too young
To stay up that late.
She told us that
Baby Jesus would be there
And he was younger than she.
We told him he couldn't go;
He was too old
To brave the cold night air.
He told us he'd rather greet heaven
From the Christmas Eve service
Than be found slumped by the TV.
So we bundled them up
Against the extreme cold
Against their own defenselessness
Against our better judgment
And they went out with joy.
My prayer is that those of us who think
That we're in charge of the world and the church
Will remember that the stable was filled
With such as these:
Those who could not be kept
Certain individuals thought they were in charge of the world when baby Jesus was born. Luke lists them for us,
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered.
Luke challenges us to contrast the power of the Emperor Augustus and the Governor Quirinius with the firstborn son of Mary, lying in a manger.
So what is power and who has it? How are we to handle it? The German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argues that the essence of our humanity is "the will to power." He also claims that more basic than all other human needs is the craving to control one's own destiny, to be free to realize one's full potential without restraints from anyone. No wonder John Milton in his epic poem, Paradise Lost, has Satan say: "To reign is worth ambition though in hell. Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven."
Then there is Jesus born in a manager. He was a simple man but his love will continue to outlast any attempt at worldly power or control. Ann Weems was correct when she said,
My prayer is that those of us who think that we're in charge of the world and the church will remember that the stable was filled with such as these: those who could not be kept from rejoicing!
Let us rejoice that we have a savior who wants to introduce us to the power of love, the power of faith, and the power of heaven.
Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1980), 35.
Luke 2:1-2, NRSV.