A WAY IN THE MANGER
Luke 2:6-7 ‘and while they were there the time came for Mary’s baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn’.
I really like the Christmas carol, ‘away in a manger’; it takes me back to my school days and the nativity plays we used to perform! It was magical! Christmas was very special then to me, but I guess in the secular sense as I was certainly not a follower of Jesus, and yet, there was something deeper even then, just out of reach, something I couldn’t grasp and yet it was there at my fingertips! Perhaps a little spark just waiting to be ignited, which it was around 20 years later!
The mention of the manger gave way for the traditional view that Jesus was born in a stable and placed in a nice wooden crib! The truth couldn’t be further. The traditional view of the sweet nativity scene and everything sugary and glowing is just man’s way of making it all palatable for adults and acceptable for children. Now is that wrong? Well I guess not as long as we keep the truth in mind. The stable was nothing more than a cave, a hole in the rock, the manger was a rough trough hewn in the wall of the cave to hold fodder for the animals! The truth is that it was dark and dank, cold and smelly. Mary had to rip up some rags to swaddle Jesus in; not exactly Christmas card material is it?
This certainly wasn’t the atmosphere or climate that the Jews expected the Messiah to be born into, for the Messiah to be born into this would be repellent to them, I guess that’s why we make it so comfy cosy sweet and Rosey too, because to us the thought of a stinking hole in the wall is not very appetizing or visually aesthetic! And the thought of Christmas cards and nativity plays being based on the truth just wouldn’t go down well at all me thinks! So, I guess we’ll have to accept the way things are but remember how they REALLY were.
In the manger was a way back to God. The Bible say’s ‘God was reconciling the world back to Himself through His Son’. But you know, just as Christ was born in the manger, He is born again in to our hearts, and let’s be absolutely honest, just as the cave and the manger was dark, dank, cold and stinky, so too were our hearts. At least mine was, however, if we believe God’s word, then we are all the same! “Once, you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil natures. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God’s anger just like everyone else”. [Ephesians 2:1-3] Now that’s pretty tough talk, but who are we to argue with the Holy Spirit inspiring the apostle Paul? However, God made a way where there seemed to be no way! A way in the manger.
PRAYER Heavenly Father God. Thank you for this wonderful time of year. Thank you that Jesus was born in my heart despite how dark and dirty, dank and stinky it was. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace. Thank you that there is a way back to you. Christ Jesus, the way in the manger. Amen