Lying in a manger...
While the baby Jesus “lying in a manger” is the central point of the tranquil scenes we prominently feature among our Christmas decorations, the actual birth event was probably not so tranquil for first time parents Joseph and Mary. The story told in Luke presents the manger crib as a concession because there was “no room at the inn.”
Luke declared that “the time came for the baby to be born,” suggesting no time to second-guess the unlikely birthing place. Perhaps in the quiet after the birth, Mary and Joseph’s thoughts turned again to reconciling the lofty claims offered by angelic messengers to both of them just nine months earlier with this birthplace fit well for animals of labor but not so well for a redeemer king. Had they somehow missed an important cue between then and now?
Could the cards be any more stacked against their baby to enter into the world to be saved at such a disadvantaged position? Where had they gone wrong?
Meanwhile another angelic disturbance was underway in the night sky above the dark pastures surrounding Bethlehem. This time a group of shepherds is the odd audience for a heavenly host of angels heralding a Savior born in the town of David who is Christ the Lord. He is to be found “lying in a manager.”
This time, “lying in a manger” is a sign given to find the right baby among many babies in Bethlehem that night due to families streaming into town to be counted in the census imposed by Caesar Augustus. No other baby would be “lying in a manger,” only Jesus, the one they sought.
But why shepherds? And why send them off to seek the baby in the manger?
God laced every moment of that evening with message and meaning, suggests Schaeffer. To shepherds, lowest on the Jewish societal strata, were given the honor to be first to see the Savior and then to release news of his arrival to the community. What comfort for them to seek their redeemer in a place that they of all people would know where to look and not feel unfit to visit?
Still, imagine their wonder as they searched. What kind of Savior arrives in a stable birthing room and a manger crib that would be unusual even in their own time? Indeed, what kind of Savior?
Then what of Mary and Joseph? Queried Schaeffer, “When the rugged shepherd worshipers arrived to see their child, did Mary and Joseph sigh in relief? Did the joy of confirmation flood their souls, washing away any doubt that might have accumulated in their hearts?”
“I think it did,” he surmised. “The heavenly-inspired visit by the shepherds was an additional confirmation that their present circumstances were exactly what God had deemed.”
So this Christmas, permit this “Lying in a Manger” ornament to be a sign for you as well, an invitation. Nothing about your situation is the least bit odd to God. Rest assured that he is working for His glory and your good. So bring your stuff and yourself to him whatever your current state. Like the shepherds, you are welcome and fit to visit.
- COMMENTS WELCOME and ENCOURAGED here about how the ornament and/or message struck you ESPECIALLY from ornament recipients. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE a 2014 “Lying in a Manger” ornament, simply request one by emailing me at FarmingtonGlenn@gmail.com. No guarantees but if I can get one to you, I will. If shipping is required, I may ask you to cover those costs.
- The inspiration for this ornament came from my reading in September 2014 of “The Real Gift of Christmas”, an RBC Ministries ‘Discovery Series’ booklet by Dan Schaeffer. Link: http://web001.rbc.org/pdf/discovery-series/the-real-gift-of-christmas.pdf
- Star charm: Finishing touch, the “Antique Brass Star Outline” charm http://www.artbeads.com/bba-ch002.html
The anchor scripture is Luke 2:12 but for context, read Luke 2: 4-19. LYING IN A MANGER SCRIPTURES: