Photo by Nicole Tarpoff
A throng of angels pressed over the side of heaven. For nine months they had been waiting for a gut-wrenching event. The world below didn’t recognize it. But in heaven the armies were pressing to see what was going on underneath their powerfully beating wings. Some had their swords at the ready, thinking they might burst forth as soon as weakness showed itself.
The command, however, had been clear and resonating. They were not to interfere. It was a bewildering demand—they had always served the Great King and exalted him with grand shouts and great songs and furious dances of praise and worship. But now they were cut off, sliced away from their Commanding Officer. It was confounding.
Soon a tiny cry deafened their ears. No one below seemed to take notice. To those under heaven it seemed quite ordinary. It was a common wail for the cold infant just born. The angels looked down and saw greatness and power wrapped tightly in dirty shreds of worn fabric. They saw a human woman and a human man looking confused at the doll-like creature in his mother’s arms. They saw animals looking on perhaps knowingly, perhaps indifferently.
To the angels he looked uncommonly tiny. He was wrinkled. He was bloody. This was nowhere near a common sight. The one whom they honored with all their might was a shriveled heap far below them, tears in his eyes, screaming for food. The sound ruptured in their ears.
The Provider was hungry.
He ate. The vast God had his fill. Then, to the utter surprise of each massive seraph, the little bundle of skin and bones closed his eyes. His body was weary and his mind was overstimulated. He fell into a deep sleep.
The guardians held their breath. The Creator slept? The Maker was exhausted? But the universe, somehow, did not crumble.
The people below looked relieved. They also laid down their heads. They also closed their eyes. The three humans slept, the Small One nuzzled in with his mother. The father, in a gesture of protection, covered them both with an arm.
The All-Powerful One was being guarded. A cow stamped his foot nearby. The angels flinched. The mother held her Son closer.
The gate of heaven shook and heaved with the weight of the legions. A rift was broken in Paradise as they worshipped far from the King. Hosts of angels poured from heaven. And there, just below them, was a ragged group of shivering men and women and some sort of stinking animal.
But the angels could no longer contain their adoration, while the small band of humans looked on in horror. Despite their desire to continue in homage, they stopped short for a moment while more of them forced open the gates of heaven behind. Michael, the bold archangel, flew mightily to the front of his troops:
“Don’t be terrified! We are joyful! On this earth night the Savior—yes, your Messiah, the Master—has been gifted to you. You will find him helpless, a human baby. He is one of you: the Spirit made human, the Father made child, the Son made carnal.
God is sleeping in a trough. Our Infinite Being is in a settlement called the City of David. The One who is everywhere is in your time, in your space. He is with you!”
The proclamation had gone on long enough. The armies of angels could not stop glorifying the Eternal Monarch. They shot like fire from heaven, racing through the sky in throngs. They were a fury of dance and a clamor of harmony. If this was the triumph of their King, they were compelled by desire, by hunger, to participate in it, to bring their Sovereign honor in his great hour. The marrying battle cry began:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—
The one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.
You are worthy, O Lord our God,
To receive glory and honor and power.
For you created all things,
And they exist because you created what you pleased.”
They could not stop. Their tongues flew wildly in their mouths in praise of the Truth. Every squad joined together and with wild vibrations sang:
“Magnify the King above and below!
Peace, harmony, well-being, and security
Be to his chosen ones on whom he looks with delight.
The earth holds the Magnificent Emperor!”
It was as if the stars and the earth and the planets vibrated with them. Then, in a fury, like a pulse of lightning, they were pulled back into heaven, consumed in ecstatic worship. Below, the Living One was breathing in and out with small breaths known only to the supernatural: “I Am. I am Emanuel. I am come.”