A Child’s Christmas

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,  “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.   Matthew 2:1-2 NLT


As a part of focusing on the birth of Jesus at Christmas I have left one of the nativity scenes in a place where our grandchildren could reach it.  My theory was that they would understand Christmas better if they knew what a manger was and what shepherds might have looked like. So I carefully set up my old and semi-unbreakable manger scene so they could see all the characters.

Last week our home was filled with the activity of seven grandchildren, their parents and one family friend. The youngest had to be chased down two or three times to retrieve ornaments which he had stolen off the Christmas tree. Food, games and fun filled our day and we retired properly blessed and exhausted as they finally all drove off in the early evening.

A few days later when I was in my office I noticed that the children had indeed seen the nativity and had rearranged the figures. As I looked closer I realized that they understood the birth of Jesus in a way a bit different than we adults do. There gathered closely around the manger were Mary, Joseph, wise men and shepherds pressing in closely to see Jesus! Maybe it would be better if we adults turned our own backs to the many activities surrounding the celebration of the Christ child and instead pressed in closely to see Jesus!20171130_054228

Going to the Manger

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger. Luke 2:15-16

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In our eyes the manger of Bethlehem represents difficulty and rejection but in God’s sight it was the perfect place. God didn’t just settle for second best, the stable was exactly what He had always planned. So what was so great about a smelly stable? Why did God come up with the idea of the manger? It reminds me a little of ministry at our local nursing home. Usually we are given a special room where people come to hear some hymns, an encouraging message and a prayer. But occasionally we cannot use that room because they have a staff meeting. At those times they ask us to gather in front of the nurse’s station at the intersection of two corridors. It is inconvenient and cramped but lots of folks who never come to our meeting are included on those days.

On the first cold Christmas night at Bethlehem’s manger that is exactly what happened! Just steps away from the main streets of the village, shepherds came, angels sang and everyone heard the news. God reached out and put his arms around ordinary people who He loved with an extraordinary love and said-

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord! Luke 2:12 ESV