Luke 2:6-7 – While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (NIV)
There were 37 people to recruit, and not much time. Complicating matters was the age factor — most possible participants were over 70 years old. Seniors putting on a Christmas play, and a controversial one at that! Wow! I must have been crazy. But wait, God was up to something. After all the concern — I refuse to use the word "worry" — everyone came on board, and I could relax a bit. Relaxing before Christmas? No! Only relaxing before the first rehearsal of "Who Was In The Manger"!
Why do we love that manger scene so much? Is it the humble simplicity as Jesus began His life on earth in a way so vastly different from our own — a hospital crib versus a manger? Is it our love for animals taking our place around the feeding trough? Is it the young couple far from home and unsure of the future? Is it our guilt for providing so poorly for God's Son?
All of those, yet none, really explain it. I think we are drawn to that scene because of the one lying in the manger — a very special baby. We long to be there to see God's precious Son born into the world. The birth of every baby is very special, a remarkable copulation of human love. But this was God's love touching every one of us. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have been there? To hear Jesus, so small and vulnerable, cooing softly, accompanied by the moos of the cows? I wish I had been the innkeeper's little daughter, standing at the entrance, bending low to see between the legs of those rough shepherds, and around the moving hoofs of donkeys and cows.
Why do we love Him so? We love Him because we identify. He was born just like every one of us. So, perhaps, this is why God chose to come that way, small and dependent. He took on our vulnerability and was dependent upon others for love, dependent on Mary and Joseph's love. Wow! He came just like us, a real, tiny, dependent little thing. I thank God for making us all so vulnerable, for in our dependence we need and open to the love of others, and yes, to the love of our God, a love so amazing and divine that it takes our breath away. This is what we see in the manger.
As Christmas dawns, let's look once again into the lowly manger, filled with hay and a tiny baby, and understand deep down how vulnerable we all are, and how wonderful is God's love for us. We are born dependent, dependent on another's love to survive. We give thanks for our mothers and fathers and for all those who nurtured us through those early years. Through them, God's love flowed from the manger right into our hearts.
Even though each of us is so small and dependent, we are not insignificant in God's eyes! We are greatly loved! Why else would God come to earth as one of us? It must be love! "Love so amazing, so divine, demands our life, our love, our all."
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, born of a woman, vulnerable and weak You came into our world to take on the sorrow of human flesh struggling to survive under the weight of our sin. You came to breathe true hope and real joy into our days, forgiving each one of us. We thank You, Jesus, for bringing into our world such a great love; we are deeply moved to be included. Help us, today, to show Your love to others around us who are suffering, confused from their dependence, and looking for help in all the wrong places. May we help them find You as they come and look once again into the lowly manger. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.