A Royal Baby

Royal Baby

He’s here. He has come. The day we were all waiting for. The royal baby has arrived. Let the tabloids rejoice. Let them yell it from the rooftops.

I am by no means a royal fan. Nor am I royal-hater. I’d place myself firmly in the royally ambivalent camp. But it has been very interesting to watch all the royal fandemonium surrounding the arrival of William and Kate’s firstborn.

It made it particularly interesting in that William and Kate wanted to keep the baby’s gender a surprise to everyone, even themselves. With great anticipation the world was waiting for the news of the coming heir to the throne. Throngs of people waiting outside the palace to receive word and have the news of the future king be proclaimed in the most innovate of methods, the royal easel. It is a very nice easel.

Thousands of women were waiting to learn the royal baby’s name before naming their own child. Some wanting to imitate the royal baby, others to avoid what will sure to instantly be the most popular baby name of 2013. British law allows for six weeks before a baby is legally named, so this summer there will be a particularly high number of nameless infants. Oddsmakers were handing out 8/1 odds for George, 9/1 for James and 33/1 for Philip. Turns out that the odds on favourite was good for it, with William and Kate naming their son George Alexander Louis and will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.

And in the midst of this hullaballoo we see just how a future king is born.

I can’t help but reflect on the birth of another king. It seems far too warm outside to be reflecting on the Christmas story, but the contrasts are poignant. There he was, the promised king, descendent of David, heir to the throne…. born in a stable, laid in a feed trough. There were no throngs of royal fans, just some lowly shepherds, hardly the types that would be allowed near a king. It’s smelly and despised work shepherding. There was no media contingent broadcasting the story around the world, though perhaps those same shepherds did disrupt the quiet streets of little old Bethlehem with their “glorifying and praising God” which sounds like a bit of a noisy activity. There was no royal easel outside that humble stable. No hashtag or paparazzi. Not much at all.

What kind of king is this? Doesn’t he know how kings ought to be born? Doesn’t he know the importance of first impressions and grand entrances?

What kind of king? Well, he’s one like us. Struggling to get by. Raised in a simple, even impoverished home. Working a simple trade. He lived in obscurity and simplicity. A small town boy, far from the influence and importance of the big city and national politics. He was largely unknown.

God’s promised and long-expected king came as a humble king. Not a pretentious glamour king. Not a power-hungry overlord. He came “humble and mounted on a donkey.” He came “to seek and save the lost.” He is a king who serves. A king who goes to the cross. This king is altogether different. This king humbled himself to the lowest place.

Bono describes a particular Christmas when he was home in Dublin and attended St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Christmas Eve. He had just flown in from Tokyo and was falling asleep in the service…

“Then I started to try and keep myself awake studying what was on the page. It dawned on me for the first time, really. It had dawned on me before, but it really sank in: the Christmas story. The idea that God, if there is a force of Love and Logic in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in shit and straw… a child… I just thought: ‘wow!’ Just the poetry… Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this…. Love has to become an action or something concrete. It would have to happen. There must be incarnation. Love must be made flesh.”

A royal baby. A humble King. God in flesh.

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