The Gold Scarf

Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen"1 (Lyrics)

As I carefully place the pieces of the nativity set in their traditional places atop the desk, I try to find a quiet time to think about the characters and give thanks for the part that each played on that miraculous day.

I place the stable along with Mary and Joseph on a gold scarf that came with the set. Of course, I recount how Mary was told by an angel that she would have a Baby and she was to call Him Jesus. Next to Mary, I see poor Joseph, who had his world turned upside down with the news that his wife-to-be was already with child. I remember Scripture that tells of the angel who came to calm his fears with news that this was God's plan.

Close by, I place the shepherd with a lamb in his arms who gazes at the Baby. Off at a distance the three wise men make their way with their gifts. The donkey, cow, and sheep lie nearby to help make the scene complete. Lastly, I place the beautiful Baby Jesus in the manger overflowing with golden hay. My heart is greatly warmed at the sight of the sweet Baby Who came to be our Saviour.

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)

As I stand back and gaze at this beautiful scene, I am suddenly checked by the Lord. I begin to see the scene in a different way.

The King of kings was born in a stable, not the one that my nativity set portrayed on its glimmering, gold scarf. It was a stinky place where animals lived, and since the inn was full, so probably was the stable. This weary couple may have shivered from the cold as the winds blew through the cracks of the rickety old barn. Mary and Joseph lay down, not on a bed of clean hay but probably on a hard dirt floor that was hardly a place to give birth to a baby, let alone our Saviour. The manger was a dirty trough that was used to feed the livestock. How Mary must have winced at laying her precious Baby there. The angels didn't go to the religious leaders of that time but sang of the good news to lowly shepherds, who quickly joined this scene, not smelling all that good either.

Why, everyone is all cleaned up and looks so good on my gold scarf that I can practically hear Silent Night playing in the background. Why couldn't He at least be born inside the inn? Why not a warm cradle to lay Him in? I guess if the world had been the clean, perfect one that sat upon my gold scarf, there would have been no need for Him to come. If humankind were perfect, there would have been no need for a Saviour. Jesus was born of a lowly maiden in a dirty stable and would die to save us from our dirty sins. As Mary wrapped her newborn baby in swaddling clothes, she wrapped God's plan to save the world.

Don't worry, my nativity scene still sits on the gold scarf. I haven't brought in stable "dirt" to make it look realistic, but I will never look at it in the same way. Let's thank God that this perfect Baby came down to an imperfect world to die for our sins. Why? Because He loved us so!

Prayer: Praise You, Father, for sending Your one and only Son into this dirty world. Thank You, Jesus, for dying for our sins and loving us in spite of our dirty world. We love You, Lord, for letting us celebrate Your love letter of the birthing of hope with shiny bulbs and cheery songs. Amen.

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About the author:

Jeanie Nihiser <jnihiserj@gmail.com>
Cerro Gordo, Illinois, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Jeanie.


    How true! Thank you for the timely reminder. Merry Christmas.


    Thank you for a “fresh” understanding of the wonderful age-old story.


    Thank you, Jeanie. This is lovely and prompts me to act differently next year when I put up my nativity sets.


    Following Jesus in a dirty world has never been golden easy – a struggle we conquer with the Holy Spirit by our side – Amen.


    Oh yes indeed Amen.
    Thank you so much for your message!! May God bless and keep you.


    Thank you, Jeanie, for another very in-depth and meaningful devotional. I too, have a nativity scene I put up each Christmas and reflect on what Mary went through out in that cold stable. We are so blessed having the love and care of Jesus in our lives. Blessings for this special writing.


    Good morning, Jeanie,
    I very much enjoyed your devotional with the section on “reality” and looking at the birth of Jesus from a different perspective. You could also have added the terror of King Herod to that true story.
    I appreciated the beginning where you think about the part that each piece in the nativity scene played in the story of Jesus’ birth. I have not done that and think that it would definitely add to my enjoyment of the nativity scene. I reflect more on what the birth of Jesus means in my life and not how each part has a special place in the story.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and awakening more of the story in my heart. Blessings and Merry Christmas.


    Good morning, Jeanie,
    Thank you for your wonderful words of truth this morning. I like the comparison about the two stables. We too have a manger scene with all the people as you mentioned. Actually it is a stable I built many years ago. One of our daughters bought all the people and animals and she and I painted them all.
    I was at a workshop for preaching a couple of years ago and we were told that there is a good possibility that Jesus was not born in a stable at all but in some part of the inn. But my mind is made up, I don’t want to be confused with the — to me — questionable facts.
    Thanks again for your good words and I wish you and yours a very Blessed Christmas.


    Thanks for the reminder.
    So much of what we hear at Christmas comes from English storytelling. I just checked a weather app and Bethlehem’s average nighttime low in winter is still only 39. Daytime a comfortable 57. Here in NA we think of wooden barns, but there they would have had a courtyard surrounded by a stone or mud brick wall. Joseph likely had relatives there and would end up staying with them and the animals would likely roam around the ground floor. With the census it was likely very crowded within those walls.
    Who would sleep on the roof, yet it seemed to be quite common there.
    Goats and sheep would be common… cattle not likely.
    We are so used to hot showers and clean clothes, but not there. It would have been a smelly place indeed… which is probably why perfume was so valuable.
    Merry Christmas!
    (Ontario)


    Jeanie,
    I appreciate your devotional. You write well.
    I just wanted to offer a bit of a different look at the story. I have just come from a Bible study where we were talking about translations. So that is reflected in my comments. (And I do not want to discourage you). When we look at the story of Jesus’ birth we are influenced by our own experiences. There is in the newer translations a reference to a ‘guest room’ rather than an ‘inn’. And my understanding of inns in those days was more of a place of public room for sleeping.
    And an earlier scholar Mr. Young produced a Bible to reflect the more literal translation of the Bible from Greek to English. He gives these words “laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.” Since we do not have any reference to animals, the manger might not have been in use.
    No matter how we see these words, the important thing is that Jesus came, born of a virgin, to suffer and die for our salvation. And for that I am eternally grateful.
    Keep writing.


    I like the way you write, thank you. Perfect title, I think for this.
    I thought: yes, the Lord can suddenly show us the reality, good and bad.
    Keep up the great work for Jesus.


    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.


    Merry Christmas
    Thankyou for your story and making things come to life. I just rearranged my nativity scene and I thought of you and this devotional.
    Wishing you all the best.

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