By Judy Brandon: Religion columnist
Several years ago, I had purchased a CD with Christmas songs sung by children for my grandchildren. Not long after that, I was on the way home from some doctor appointments in Lubbock and pushed that CD into the player to get into the Christmas sprit.
I headed west back home toward Clovis. I hummed along the way through Shallowater to the likes of “Away in a Manger” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.” I sang along to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and others on the road toward Littlefield. I whistled right through Sudan and five miles out to “Jingle Bells” and “Up on the Rooftop.” I tapped my hands in rhythm on the steering wheel to “The Little Drummer Boy” and other melodies all the way into Muleshoe. Then, right outside Muleshoe, a song began and as a result I had a theological awakening of some sorts.
The name of the song was “The Friendly Beasts” by Robert Davis. The setting is the in the inn with the baby Jesus and the animals. The animals are carrying on a conversation among themselves and they tell of Jesus’ birth in a stable stall with all of them as eye witnesses. But what could the animals present to the King of the Universe? On the surface, it seemed that a bunch of barnyard creatures did not have anything to give to the Baby Jesus.
At that point, the donkey who was described as shaggy and brown spoke up. He proclaimed “I carried him up and down … I carried his mother into Bethlehem town.”
Then the white and red cow offered her sacrifice for the Christ child. “I gave him my manger for his bed and I gave him my hay to pillow his head.”
Next the sheep named his gift: “I gave him my wool for his blanket warm and he wore my coat on Christmas morn.”
Then the camel realized the gift he had given. “I carried the wise men through the desert on my back and they brought him a gift in their pack.”
So every animal in the stable played a significant role and every animal was thankful for the opportunity to offer something to the Christ child — something only they could give and something unique only to them.
“The Friendly Beasts,” even though a children’s song, affirmed again in my mind that God only expects us to give what we have — give of ourselves and our unique abilities. The donkey was helpless to give up a manger for the Christ child because he had no stall and trough to give. The sheep wasn’t expected to carry the Christ child because he was not equipped to carry a load over that rocky terrain. The camel couldn’t offer wool for warmth because his calling was to transport the wise men.
So what was I to glean from this simple children’s song? God does not expect us to give to Him what we do not have; yet he does want us to give Him what we do have.
The writer of Romans speaks of this service to God in the Bible: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” (Romans 12:1)
It was an eventful journey back home. A long drive, a children’s song, a bunch of harmonizing barnyard animals singing about Immanuel — God with us — and the concept of service to Christ made so profoundly to me.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: